India forced Twitter to put agent on payroll, whistleblower says

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A former Twitter Inc 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.

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.

A company source told Reuters that the allegations about the Indian government had surfaced previously within Twitter, without elaborating further.

Representatives for India’s IT ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“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,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement regarding Zatko’s allegations.

Twitter administration contended that India is involved in illegal activities and content on the platform.

Twitter is engaged in a legal battle 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. “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,” Zatko’s complaint noted.

The Washington Post report said that supporting information for Zatko’s claims had gone to the National Security Division of the US Justice Department and the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. According to US news channel CNN, these revelations of Twitter’s negligence and “deliberate omissions” pose a great threat to national security and democracy.—Reuters

 

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