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8 Mar, 2023 20:51

US government demands information from Elon Musk

Republicans say the Biden administration is harassing the Twitter CEO for political reasons
US government demands information from Elon Musk

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent more than a dozen letters to Twitter following Elon Musk’s takeover of the company, including demands that he turn over the names of journalists he gave internal documents to, according to a report published by Congressional Republicans on Tuesday.

In the three months after Musk took ownership of Twitter in October, the FTC sent more than a dozen letters containing over 350 specific demands for information, the report by the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee stated.

In its first letter after Musk began releasing details of Twitter’s prior collaboration with the White House and US intelligence agencies, the FTC demanded that the company “identify all journalists and other members of the media” who had been granted access to internal documents. 

Other letters asked Twitter to hand over all internal communications “relating to Elon Musk,” and demanded that Musk explain why Jim Baker – a former FBI general counsel who helped Twitter censor the Hunter Biden laptop story in 2020 – was fired after the billionaire’s takeover.

“The timing, scope, and frequency of the FTC’s demands to Twitter suggest a partisan motivation to its action,” the committee wrote. “There is no logical reason … why the FTC needs to know the identities of journalists engaging with Twitter. There is no logical reason why the FTC, on the basis of user privacy, needs to analyze all of Twitter’s personnel decisions. And there is no logical reason why the FTC needs every single internal Twitter communication about Elon Musk.” 

In a tweet on Tuesday, Musk called the request for information on reporters “a serious attack on the Constitution by a federal agency.”

The FTC announced its Twitter probe in November, stating that it was “tracking recent developments” at the platform “with deep concern.” The investigation is ostensibly aimed at investigating whether Musk’s layoffs – which saw Twitter’s workforce cut by around three quarters – could have jeopardized users’ privacy or security.