Senior members of Twitter’s privacy and security teams have exited the company, according to an internal message from a company lawyer obtained by ABC News that warns of employment contract violations and legal repercussions if new owner Elon Musk doesn’t comply with an FTC agreement.
Among the staffers that left were chief privacy officer Damien Kieran, chief compliance officer Marianne Fogarty and chief information officer Lea Kissner, according to the message. Kissner confirmed their resignation in a Tweet earlier this morning. None have responded to ABC’s request for comment.
The message was posted to Twitter’s Slack by a lawyer on Twitter’s privacy team and viewable to all staff. “Over the last two weeks, Elon has shown that he cares only about recouping the losses he’s incurring as a result of failing to get out of his binding obligation to buy Twitter,” the lawyer wrote to fellow employees. The Verge reported first on the lawyer’s message.
The Twitter lawyer’s message comes after Musk announced he’d require employees to be in the office 40 hours a week, eliminating remote work. The lawyer believes this is a “fundamental change to our employment contracts,” they wrote to the Slack group consisting of over 2,000 members. “I do not, personally, believe that Twitter employees have an obligation to return to the office. Certainly not on no notice, the attorney wrote.
“He chose to enter into that agreement,” the Twitter lawyer added regarding Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. “All of us are being put through this as a result of the choices he made.”
The Twitter lawyer reminded coworkers that they still have unlimited PTO. “Perhaps today is a good day to take some rest and recharge,” they wrote.
This member of Twitter’s senior counsel went on to describe Musk’s apparent disregard for any potential legal repercussions that could present themselves in the near future.
In the message, the attorney brought up the FTC settlement Twitter agreed to in May; the company was caught using telephone numbers and emails for targeted advertising, even though they were only supposed to be used for multi-factor authentication logins. The FTC hit the company with a $150 million fine and provided Twitter with a list of new compliance rules.
If the company refuses to comply with the FTC agreement, Twitter could be fined billions of dollars, according to the company lawyer’s Slack message.
But the lawyer claims in the message that they heard Alex Spiro, Musk’s lawyer and current head of Twitter’s legal department, say “that Elon is willing to take on a huge amount of risk in relation to this company and its users, because ‘Elon puts rockets into space, he’s not afraid of the FTC.'”
Twitter’s legal team is asking engineers to “self-certify” compliance with FTC rules and other privacy laws, according to the company attorney’s message. “This will put a huge amount of personal, professional and legal risk onto engineers,” they wrote. “I anticipate that all of you will be pressured by management into pushing out changes that will likely lead to major incidents.”
An FTC spokesperson tells ABC News “we are tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern. No CEO or company is above the law, and companies must follow our consent decrees. Our revised consent order gives us new tools to ensure compliance, and we are prepared to use them.”
The Twitter lawyer left the number for Twitter’s Ethics’ Helpline and a link to https://whistlebloweraid.org/ at the end of the email.
“It’s been an honor working with all of you,” they wrote. “I’ll be taking a day of PTO today.”
Twitter has not responded to ABC News’ request for comment.