A former Twitter security chief has alleged that the Indian government forced the social media firm to put a government agent on the payroll, according to a whistleblower disclosure with US regulators. Peiter ‘Mudge’ Zatko raised the issue with the US Securities and Exchange Commission among other security lapse claims at Twitter.
The Supposed Government Agent Would Have Access to All Sensitive User Data
He said the government agent would have had access to sensitive user data due to Twitter’s weak security infrastructure, according to a redacted version of the complaint uploaded by the Washington Post newspaper and verified by Zatko’s attorney at Whistleblower Aid. “The company did not in fact disclose to users that it was believed by the executive team that the Indian government had succeeded in placing agents on the company payroll,” Peiter ‘Mudge’ Zatko, former head of safety at Twitter, said in his complaint filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). He alleged that the company “knowingly” permitted an “Indian government agent direct unsupervised access to the company’s systems and user data”.
Twitter Claims These Allegations as False Narrative Against the Company
In a statement, a Twitter spokesperson said that Zatko was fired from his role in the company in January for ineffective leadership and poor performance. “What we’ve seen so far is a false narrative about Twitter and our privacy and data security practices that are riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies and lack important context. Mr. Zatko’s allegations and opportunistic timing appear designed to capture attention and inflict harm on Twitter, its customers, and its shareholders. Security and privacy have long been company-wide priorities at Twitter and will continue to be,” the person said.
Twitter is engaged in a legal challenge against the Indian government after it asked a local court in July to overturn some government orders to remove content from the social media platform, and alleged abuse of power by officials. The next hearing in the case is set for Thursday.