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Twitter gets twenty-year slap on the wrist

Twitter yesterday resolved Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived consumers and put their privacy at risk. The site got a slap on the wrist and was bound over to live up to its promises for 20 years, after which time we guess it can ease up a bit.

The FTC went after the site after hackers were able to gain control of such Twits' accounts as Barack Obama's and Fox News'.

The reguator blamed Twitter for allowing hackers to nab administrative control of Twitter and view non-public user information. They were able to get hold of direct messages and protected tweets, reset users' passwords and tweet from any user account they fancied.

Twitter, in the FTC's view, failed to take "reasonable steps" to prevent such attacks on its administrative systems.

As a result, the warbling-into-the-Interweb service has been barred for 20 years from "misleading consumers about the extent to which it maintains and protects the security, privacy, and confidentiality of non-public consumer information, including the measures it takes to prevent authorised access to information and honour the privacy choices made by consumers."

The company must also "establish and maintain a comprehensive information security program, which will be assessed by a third party every other year for 10 years".

"When a company promises consumers that their personal information is secure, it must live up to that promise," said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Likewise, a company that allows consumers to designate their information as private must use reasonable security to uphold such designations. Consumers who use social networking sites may choose to share some information with others, but they still have a right to expect that their personal information will be kept private and secure.”