WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, on Monday sent a letter to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), requesting an immediate investigation into the potential national security concerns arising from the recent takeover of Twitter, Inc. by Elon Musk and a number of foreign private investors, including members of the Saudi Arabian royal family and the kingdom of Qatar.
“As you know, CFIUS has the responsibility to review transactions that could result in an American business being controlled by a foreign person. However, CFIUS must also review non-controlling investments in certain sensitive US businesses, including companies that develop critical technologies and businesses that possess sensitive personal data on US citizens. The purpose of these reviews is clear: to protect the national security interests of the United States and American citizens,” he wrote.
Murphy called attention to Saudi Arabia’s repression of free speech and political dissent inside and outside of the Kingdom’s borders, including the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Murphy referenced allegations by federal prosecutors in 2019 that Saudi Arabia recruited Twitter employees to mine Twitter’s internal systems for personal information about known Saudi critics and thousands of other Twitter users, in violation of U.S. law. Twitter also suspended 88,000 accounts tied to a disinformation campaign backed by the Saudi government after an internal investigation. Murphy directed the committee to examine the degree to which Saudi influence over Twitter’s operations or access to user data could be used to silence critics and activists, or further state-sponsored disinformation campaigns.
“In addition, federal and state government officials rely on Twitter to be a reliable medium to communicate vital information to the public. The possibility that a foreign power may now be able to influence the ability of the White House or a Governor to communicate with constituents must be thoroughly examined,” Murphy wrote.