Former Twitter security head Peiter "Mudge" Zatko has alleged that the Indian government forced the micro-blogging platform to hire a "government agent" and allow him access to users' sensitive data, a claim that has been trashed by Twitter.
Zatko's whistleblower disclosure in a 84-page page, submitted to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), was obtained by CNN and The Washington Post on Tuesday.
In a section titled 'Penetration by Foreign Intelligence & Threats to Democracy', Zatko claimed that "the Indian government forced Twitter to hire specific individual(s) who were government agents, who (because of Twitter's basic architectural flaws) would have access to vast amounts of Twitter sensitive data".
"By knowingly permitting an Indian government agent direct unsupervised access to the company's systems and user data, Twitter executives violated the company's commitments to its users," he claimed.
Zatko, who reported directly to the CEO, was fired by Twitter in January this year over "poor performance".
Last month, he filed a complaint with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), accusing Twitter of deceiving shareholders and violating an agreement it made with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to uphold certain security standards.
In a statement to Spectrum News, a Twitter spokesperson said Zatko was a disgruntled former employee who is making untrue claims.
"Zatko was fired from his senior executive role at Twitter in January 2022 for ineffective leadership and poor performance," the spokesperson was quoted as saying.
"What we've seen so far is a false narrative about Twitter and our privacy and data security practices that is riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies and lacks important context," the company spokesperson added.
Zatko also alleged that the Indian government forced Twitter to hire local full-time employees that "could be used as leverage".
"The threat of harm to Twitter employees was sufficient to cause Twitter to seriously consider complying with foreign government requests that Twitter would otherwise fundamentally oppose," he claimed.
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