the whistleblower speaks for the first time this Tuesday (13th)

Image: Joshua Hoehne/Unsplash/Reproduction

Peiter Zatko, the former head of security and now a spokesman for Twitter whistleblowers, will speak for the first time in the US Congress on Tuesday about the alleged vulnerabilities of the network.

This will likely be Zatko’s first public appearance since July, when he accused Twitter of failing to protect users’ personal data. According to him, the social network reveals “confidential parts” of its work, including “potential foreign agents”.

Zatko led Twitter’s cybersecurity industry from November 2020 until he was fired in January of this year. He says company executives, including CEO Parag Agrawal, are “deliberately misleading” regulators and company management about the network’s shortcomings.

Zatko’s allegations could pave the way for investigations of Twitter by Congress, federal regulators and US law enforcement.

It happened before. Last year, former Facebook employee Frances Haugen pointed out that Instagram is aware of the harm the network is causing to teenage girls, but prefers not to do anything about it. The report prompted Mark Zuckerberg’s network to begin a series of online security changes.

Another important point is that Zatko’s account can be turned into arguments for Elon Musk. The billionaire entrepreneur has been waging a legal battle against Twitter in an attempt to buy the platform for $44 billion.

This is not the first time that Zatko appears before the US Congress and talks about security. In 1998, he joined a panel of ethical hackers who warned about computer security risks on the Internet.

Before Twitter, Zatko worked at the US Department of Defense and Google.

What will Zatko say?

A Twitter whistleblower must claim the network is violating a 2011 consent order with the US Federal Trade Commission. If true, the company could pay billions of dollars in fines.

Twitter executives can also be held liable if found to be “knowingly responsible” for violations.

Zatko is also expected to claim that nearly half of Twitter’s employees, including its entire engineering team, have extensive access to users’ personal data. This, he says, is different from other large technology companies, where there are separate environments.

The former employee also claims that Twitter does not delete the data of users who have canceled their accounts – in some cases because the network has lost control of that information. The system failure would result from potential violations of a 2011 Federal Trade Commission consent order.

Zatko also questions Twitter’s ability to deal with threats related to the US election in November. According to him, the network has “misaligned priorities” between the production and security teams.

On Wednesday, current and former Twitter employees are scheduled to go to the US Senate to testify about the network’s impact on national security.

what twitter says

Twitter said members of its engineering and product teams are authorized to access the platform as long as there is a “specific business justification.” Employees from other sectors, such as finance, law and marketing, for example, have limited access.

Regarding account deletion, Twitter said it has created internal workflows to ensure users know their accounts and data are properly deleted when they cancel their accounts. However, there is no confirmation of the completion of this process, according to information from CNN.

Meanwhile, Twitter criticized the whistleblower for “painting a false narrative” about the company. A network spokesman said the former employee was fired due to “ineffective leadership and poor performance.”

Zatko, for his part, says his departure was “revenge” for raising concerns about network vulnerabilities and alleged misrepresentations by Twitter executives to management.

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