November 24, 2022

Elon Musk Urged by US Senator to Better Protect US Users’ Data After Whistleblower Testimony

Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, has been urged by top US Senate Republican Chuck Grassley to conduct a threat assessment at the social media company to better protect US user data, following up on concerns raised by a whistleblower. Hacker Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, a whistleblower who served as Twitter’s head of security until his firing in January, testified in September that some Twitter employees were concerned the Chinese government would be able to collect data on the company’s users.

In a letter to Musk dated Tuesday and released on Wednesday, Grassley, the top Republican on the US Judiciary Committee, asked Twitter to perform a threat assessment “of Twitter’s current security posture and systems to better protect user data and privacy.” He also asked for the committee staff to be briefed on the findings.

“Twitter collects vast amounts of data on American citizens. Americans have a vested interest in ensuring that their private data is secure, and that the companies which they have entrusted with their private data have not been infiltrated by foreign agents,” Grassley wrote.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Zatko previously alleged that Twitter had misled the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about the company’s security measures as part of an agreement in 2011. The hacker also claimed that Twitter had serious security flaws affecting the platform, and that one or more employees were working on behalf of foreign governments.

He had testified that a foreign agent could use malware to steal Twitter users personal information, and use that to gain access to sensitive data on the person’s phone, among other dangers.

The correspondence reiterated some concerns raised in a prior letter sent by Grassley and Democrat Dick Durbin in September to former chief executive Parag Agrawal, who led the company until October, when Musk took it over in a $44 billion (roughly Rs. 3,59,430 crore) deal.

According to Grassley, Agrawal did not respond to the letter, citing litigation with Musk.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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