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Twitter whistleblower to testify at Senate hearing

Twitter’s former security chief, who alleged the company has major security deficiencies in a bombshell whistleblower disclosure, will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September, the committee said Wednesday. 

The whistleblower, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, will participate in a hearing aimed at examining the allegations of security failures at Twitter. 

“Mr. Zatko’s allegations of widespread security failures and foreign state actor interference at Twitter raise serious concerns.  If these claims are accurate, they may show dangerous data privacy and security risks for Twitter users around the world,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a joint statement. 

“The Senate Judiciary Committee will investigate this issue further with a full Committee hearing this work period, and take further steps as needed to get to the bottom of these alarming allegations,” the senators added.

In an 84-page disclosure, published by The Washington Post on Tuesday, Zatko alleged Twitter has not been complying with a 2011 consent order from the Federal Trade Commission that called for the company to create and maintain a security program designed to protect privacy and nonpublic consumer information. 

Zatko also alleged the platform is vulnerable to exploitation by foreign governments. 

Twitter has pushed back strongly on Zatko’s allegations. 

“What we’ve seen so far is a false narrative about Twitter and our privacy and data security practices that is riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies and lacks important context,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday. “Mr. Zatko’s allegations and opportunistic timing appear designed to capture attention and inflict harm on Twitter, its customers and its shareholders.”

The complaint in part references a back-and-forth between Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and Elon Musk, the Tesla CEO who is trying to back out of his deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion.

Musk has accused Twitter of not providing information about the number of spam bots on the platform, an accusation the platform has pushed back on. 

Zatko accused the Twitter CEO of misleading Musk and the public about the number of spam accounts on the platform and how the platform counts them. 


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