Irish regulator reaches preliminary decision in privacy investigation on Twitter

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Twitter may be the first major technology company to receive a fine from the EU's top regulator under the region's most stringent data protection rules after it submitted a preliminary decision in an investigation into the social media company other member states.

ARCHIVE PHOTO: A logo printed in 3D for Twitter is seen in this illustration of the image made in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina on January 26, 2016. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / File Photo

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Ireland's Data Protection Commission (DPC) also said on Friday that it had sent a preliminary decision to Facebook-owned WhatsApp for its submissions and made further progress in three other Facebook-related investigations.

Ireland is home to the European headquarters of several U.S. technology companies, making the DPC the main EU regulator under the "One Stop Shop" regime of the bloc's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), launched in 2018.

The new rules give regulators the power to impose fines for violations of up to 4% of a company's global revenue or 20 million euros ($ 22 million), whichever is greater.

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According to the GDPR, the DPC must share its preliminary decision with all EU supervisory authorities involved and consider their views in its final verdict. Each of the bloc's regulators can be called to a majority decision if an agreement cannot be reached.

The DPC is not commenting on the substance of Twitter's preliminary decision at this time, Deputy Commissioner Graham Doyle told Reuters.

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Twitter's decision concerns a 2019 investigation into a bug in its Android app, where some users' protected tweets have been made public. Twitter is the subject of two of the 20 other investigations that the DPC opened at major technology companies in late 2019.

A Twitter spokeswoman declined to comment.

Facebook underwent a thorough examination, with eight individual tests, plus two on WhatsApp and one on Instagram owned by Facebook.

The DPC said it has moved to the decision-making phase of a complaints-based investigation, which focuses on Facebook Ireland's obligations to establish a legal basis for processing personal data.

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The company said it also sent drafts of inquiry reports to complainants and companies involved in two other investigations on Instagram and WhatsApp.

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Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Mark Potter and David Gregorio

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