Twitter Unable to Locate Foreign Agents: Zatko

According to Twitter’s ex-security head turned whistleblower Peiter Zatko, the social media giant lacked internal security procedures that prevented it from tracking workers who could have been operating as government agents owing to insufficient logging of activities.

In the past, he had asserted that he had “great confidence” that the Indian government had sent operatives to work for the business. Tuesday evening, at a hearing at the US Senate Judiciary Committee, Zatko also claimed that Twitter employed a Chinese spy who was employed by the Ministry of State Security of that nation.

In response to a query from Senator Dianne Feinstein, Zatko stated, “Other than the person who I believe with high confidence to be a foreign agent placed in a position from India, it was going to be from an outside agency or somebody alerting Twitter that somebody already existed that they would find the person.

He said that when Twitter became aware of someone inside working as a government agent for a foreign power, “it was incredibly difficult to monitor the people.” The Committee was informed by Zatko that “there was a lack of recording and an opportunity to understand what they were doing, what information was being accessed, let alone create measures for repair and maybe reconstituting any harm.”

Zatko’s deposition comes less than a month after he submitted a whistleblower complaint to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in which he alleged that the Indian government “forced” the social media company to employ one or more people who were “government agents” and had unrestricted access to significant amounts of the platform’s user data, among other things.

A former Twitter employee was also convicted guilty in August of spying for the Saudi authorities and giving them useful information related to alleged dissidents.

Another senator questioned Zatko on the benefits of having an agent during the almost two-hour long hearing on Tuesday. Zatko may have been alluding to India when he indicated that an agent might obtain people’s phone numbers and email addresses and may be aware of individuals and their networks who may have participated in the farmers’ demonstration, for example.

According to him, among the information Twitter gathers is a user’s phone number, current and previous IP addresses used to connect, current and previous email addresses, and the person’s approximate location determined by IP addresses. In addition to gathering this vast amount of data, Zatko asserted that Twitter also had access to information on users who had left the network since it just deactivated their accounts rather than deleting them.

An initial request for a response from Twitter was not answered.

Following Zatko’s discoveries, the Shashi Tharoor-led Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology last month called a meeting with Twitter representatives in India.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *