Twitter recently launched a new site, which will now serve as a hub for the company’s privacy and data protection efforts. The site, which is called the Twitter Privacy Center, will be the place where you can read information about announcements, security initiatives, and new privacy products. The site will also be used for communication about any security incidents.

The new Privacy Center has information for both its users and its partners. On the user side, you can take a look at Account Settings, the Terms of Service, Twitter’s Privacy Policy, and much more. On the partner side, it’s a little different. Twitter, like many companies who transact sensitive information are requiring all partnerships to be compliant and secure under the EU’s most stringent law to date GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the US’s California Consumer Privacy Act. This means many more investments in security products and services across the board.

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)

The GDPR, or the General Data Protection Regulation, which was created by the European Parliament and Council in 2016, is a part of Twitter’s new Privacy Center. This is only effective in the EU. The large amount of users in the EU surely spurred a change in policy. If Twitter hadn’t updated its policies, it could be subject to harsh fines and penalties. Some of the things that this covers includes:

1. Providing notifications of data breaches

2. Requiring consent for data processing

3. Safely handing data when transferring across borders

4. Ensuring data that is collected is totally anonymous

California Consumer Privacy Act

Also on the partner side of Twitter’s new policy is information about the California Consumer Privacy Act. This was passed into law in 2018, and it is similar, though not quite as stringent, as the GDPR. It only applies to California, but because so many major tech companies are located in the state, including Facebook and Google, others are also protected.

Because of all of the major data breaches we have experienced over the past few years, it is expected that all 50 states will soon have some type of similar law in place to protect those who use the internet.

What is Twitter Doing Here?

With these new policies, Twitter has explained that it technically isn’t bowing down to the EU and its policies…only a part of it is, Twitter International Company. This entity technically already exists, and the company is working to move its remaining users, those in the US and outside of the EU, to the brands Twitter Inc. entity.

Why would Twitter do this? So, it can specifically test settings and features for the EU directly through Twitter International Company. This also allows Twitter to give these users different controls than those connected to Twitter Inc. Here’s an example: Twitter says it could test opt-in or opt-out options for advertisements, which is also part of the GDPR requirements. Eventually, these could, of course, come to users who are associated with Twitter Inc.

On top of this Twitter’s Privacy Policy has changed to explain how the company processes data and how tweets might be shared with the company’s developers.

It’s also interesting how Twitter made this announcement. The company says that it has been focused on privacy since it was founded in 2006, but that’s a bit of a strange thing to say, considering that it is a very public social media platform that anyone can see. It is possible, of course, to keep tweets hidden, which may be what Twitter is referring to. The reality is GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the US’s California Consumer Privacy Act are bearing down on everyone and security and privacy are becoming an unavoidable cost of doing business, whether Twitter Et al. likes it or not.

Twitter also talks about the future in its announcement, and it says that its focus on data protection and privacy will focus on three main areas:

1. To upgrade old systems to support the company

2. To ensure new products have built-in privacy features

3. Accountability

All Twitter products will now go through Twitter’s Information Security, Product, and Privacy Counsel teams, too, and before they are launched will also go through the Office of Data Protection, which is an independent entity. Additionally, Damien Kieran, who is the Data Protection Officer of Twitter, will share an assessment of data protection and privacy related information to the board of directors each quarter. This, of course, is to ensure the company stays compliant.

It is very common these days to see the words, “we value your privacy,” or “privacy is a fundamental right,” but this just isn’t getting through. We, as a people, are desensitized to this, and it’s cumbersome to be asked to read and accept privacy policies. But, maybe Twitter is going to change the way things go in regard to privacy with its new policy? Only time will tell, but it’s still important to use best safety practices when using the service.

 

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Author Portrait
ROBERT SICILIANO CSP, is a #1 Best Selling Amazon.com author, CEO of Safr.Me, and the architect of the CSI Protection certification; a Cyber Social and Identity Protection security awareness training program.