Twitter Whistleblower Reveals Employees Concern China May Collect User Data

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September 13 (Reuters) – Disclosures from a former Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) executive-turned-whistleblower shows that at least one Chinese agent is working at the company, Sen. Chuck Grassley said in his opening remarks during a Senate hearing Tuesday on whistleblower testimony.

Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, a famous hacker who served as Twitter’s chief security officer until his firing last year, said during the hearing that some Twitter employees were concerned that the Chinese government might collect data about Twitter users. business.

He referenced a Reuters story on Tuesday detailing infighting between some teams that wanted to maximize the ad revenue opportunity of chinese advertisers and others who were concerned about doing business inside China amid rising geopolitical tensions. read more

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“Bottom line, if we were already in bed, it would be problematic if we lost that revenue stream,” Zatko said.

“Their disclosures also indicate that the FBI notified Twitter of at least one Chinese agent at the company,” Grassley said in his opening statement.

Grassley noted that Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal refused to appear at the hearing out of fear that he could jeopardize the company’s litigation against Elon Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla. (TSLA.O) . Twitter and Musk will go to trial next month on whether to complete the $44 billion takeover deal.

Later Tuesday, Twitter will also announce the results of a shareholder vote on Musk’s acquisition of the company. Most shareholders have already approved the deal, sources told Reuters. read more

The San Francisco-based company sued Musk for terminating the deal, while Tesla’s chief executive countersued, accusing Twitter of misrepresenting the number of fake and spam accounts on its service.

A Delaware judge ruled last week that Musk can include Zatko’s whistleblower claims in his case against Twitter, but denied his request to delay the trial. read more

The Senate Judiciary Committee is questioning Zatko over his claims that Twitter misled regulators about its compliance with a 2011 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over improper handling of user data.

Since then, Twitter has made “little significant progress in core security, integrity and privacy systems,” according to Zatko’s complaint filed with regulators in July.

The committee, chaired by US Senator Dick Durban, is also expected to press Zatko over his allegation that one or more of Twitter’s employees worked on behalf of foreign governments.

Durbin, speaking to reporters on Monday, said Zatko’s claims were “a matter of grave personal and privacy concern.”

Twitter has said that Zatko was fired for “ineffective leadership and poor performance,” and that his accusations seemed designed to hurt Twitter.

Zatko’s whistleblower complaint appeared to contain more than two pages of links to supporting documents, such as emails between Zatko and Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and an assessment of misinformation and disinformation on Twitter. The number of documents was limited compared to Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who posted thousands of pages of internal material.

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Reporting from Sheila Dang in Dallas; additional reporting by Richard Cowan and David Shepardson in Washington; Edited by Cynthia Osterman, Nick Zieminski, and Lisa Shumaker

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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