Twitter Draws Hill Concern Over High-Profile Hack

Senators from both sides of the aisle expressed their concerns to Twitter Thursday (July 16) following reports of a massive bitcoin-related hack that affected high-profile accounts from Bill Gates to Joe Biden. 

Reportedly, the accounts were hacked to send tweets to followers asking them to donate to a cryptocurrency account. 

"I understand that Twitter is investigating the matter and has taken steps to remove the offending tweets," Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the Commerce Committee, said in a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. "But it cannot be overstated how troubling this incident is, both in its effects and in the apparent failure of Twitter’s internal controls to prevent it." 

“I’m extremely troubled by this hack of Twitter accounts,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) one of Congress' longest and strongest voices for consumer privacy. “While this scheme appears financially motivated and, as a result, presents a threat to Twitter users, imagine if these bad actors had a different intent to use powerful voices to spread disinformation to potentially interfere with our elections, disrupt the stock market, or upset our international relations," he said in a statement. "That is why Twitter must fully disclose what happened and what it is doing to ensure this never happens again. This hack also make clear how essential it is that we establish strong cybersecurity standards to protect Americans’ from scams, misinformation, and data theft online.” 

Wicker agrees with the potential for such hacks to extend beyond stealing. "It is not difficult to imagine future attacks being used to spread disinformation or otherwise sow discord through high-profile accounts, particularly through those of world leaders," he told Dorsey. 

In the wake of the hack, Fight for the Future has launched a campaign to get the company to implement default end-to-end encryption on its Direct Messages (DMs), though it was not clear whether the hack extended to DMs.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.