US Senate panel urges Twitter CEO over whistleblower allegations


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WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the panel’s top Republican on Monday asked Twitter Inc chief executive Parag Agrawal to answer questions about a former corporate executive turned whistleblower who is set to testify.

Peiter « Mudge » Zatko, a celebrity hacker who served as Twitter’s security chief until his firing last year, will appear before the committee on Tuesday.

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Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin and Republican Chuck Grassley on Tuesday asked Agrawal to answer questions by Sept. 26, including on Zatko’s allegations, Twitter « turned a blind eye to the infiltration foreign intelligence, fails to adequately protect user data, and has provided misleading or inaccurate information about its security practices to government agencies.

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The senators said they invited Agrawal to testify on Tuesday, but he declined.

Twitter declined to comment.

Durbin and Grassley pointed to some concerns raised by Zatko, including potentially more than half of Twitter’s full-time employees having privileged access to the company’s production systems. With this capability, several thousand employees can access sensitive user data, according to Zatko.

« …at the same time, Twitter would not have sufficient capacity to reliably know who accessed specific systems and data and what they did with it, » the senators wrote in a letter to Agrawal.

« With tens of millions of users in the United States and hundreds of millions of users worldwide, your company collects and is responsible for vast amounts of sensitive data, » they wrote. « If accurate, Mr. Zatko’s allegations demonstrate an unacceptable disregard for data security that threatens the national security and privacy of Twitter users. »

Zatko claimed Twitter misled regulators about its compliance with a 2011 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission regarding mishandling of user data.

Durbin, while speaking to reporters on Monday, said Zatko’s claims were « a serious personal and privacy concern. »

Twitter said the former executive was fired for « ineffective leadership and poor performance, » and that his allegations appeared designed to gain attention and harm Twitter. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Bradley Perrett)



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