Twitter woes continue as DPC investigates data breach

3 Jan 2023

Image: © Jirapong/

The DPC said it believes one or more provisions of GDPR may have been infringed by Twitter following reports that user data is being sold by hackers online.

Twitter is facing an Irish investigation over a data breach that may have impacted more than 5m users worldwide.

The Data Protection Commission (DPC) launched the inquiry over reports in November that various datasets of Twitter users were being sold online. The DPC said these datasets reportedly mapped Twitter IDs to private data such as email addresses and phone numbers.

The DPC said it was in communication with Twitter over this personal data breach. Following this exchange, the Commission believes “one or more provisions” of GDPR may have been infringed by the company.

Twitter confirmed in August that hackers exploited a vulnerability in its system, which allowed people to submit phone numbers and email addresses into Twitter’s API to find any connected Twitter IDs.

The DPC will investigate whether the social media company had complied with its obligations in regards to the processing of personal data of users and whether any GDPR provisions were infringed upon.

Twitter also drew the attention of the DPC and other EU watchdogs in August last year after the company’s former head of security, Peiter ‘Mudge’ Zatko, alleged that the social media platform had “extreme” security problems that pose a threat to both its users and shareholders.

The DPC’s deputy commissioner, Graham Doyle, told TechCrunch that the regulator became aware of the issues from media stories and had “engaged with Twitter on the matter”.

The DPC is the lead supervisor for Twitter in the EU under data protection rules as the company has its European headquarters in Dublin. In 2020, the DPC fined Twitter €450,000 for a data breach that was discovered two years prior.

Twitter also faced an outage last week, which caused tens of thousands of users to be unable to access the social media platform, Reuters reports. This marked the first widespread outage for Twitter since Elon Musk took over the company last October.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic