UNITED STATES: On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s chair and its senior Republican urged Twitter Inc. (TWTR.N) CEO Parag Agrawal to respond to inquiries regarding a former company executive who has turned whistleblower and is scheduled to testify.
A well-known hacker named Peiter “Mudge” Zatko will testify before the committee on Tuesday. He was Twitter’s head of security until he was let go last year.
Agrawal was tasked with answering questions about Zatko’s allegations that Twitter “turned a blind eye to foreign intelligence infiltration, does not adequately protect user data, and has provided misleading or inaccurate information about its security practises to government agencies” by September 26. The committee’s Republican chair, Chuck Grassley, and Democratic member Dick Durbin asked Agrawal to do so.
The senators claimed Agrawal had turned down their invitation to testify on Tuesday. Twitter opted not to comment.
Some of the issues mentioned by Zatko were outlined by Durbin and Grassley, including the possibility that more than half of Twitter’s full-time staff members have access to the company’s production systems. According to Zatko, thousands of staff could have access to private user information with that capability.
In a letter to Agrawal, the senators stated that “Twitter purportedly lacks sufficient capacity to reliably know who has accessed specific systems and data and what they did with it.”
“Your company collects and is responsible for vast troves of sensitive data,” they wrote. “With tens of millions of users in the U.S. and hundreds of millions of users worldwide.” If true, Mr Zatko’s charges show an intolerable disrespect for data security, endangering both the security of the country and the privacy of Twitter users.
Personal and privacy concerns
In a 2011 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over inappropriate management of user data, Zatko alleged that Twitter had misled regulators about its compliance.
In a Monday press conference, Durbin stated that Zatko’s claims were “a subject of severe personal and privacy concern.”
According to Twitter, the former executive was let go due to “ineffective leadership and poor performance,” and his accusations seemed to be intended to get attention and cause the company harm.