A former Twitter employee has filed a demand for arbitration against the tech giant, alleging he was fired following Elon Musk’s takeover after he raised concerns that Twitter was not properly protecting personal user data in order to cut costs.
Twitter has major security problems which pose a threat to its own users’ personal information, company shareholders, national security, and democracy, according to an explosive whistleblower disclosure obtained by CNN.
The disclosure, sent last month to Congress and federal agencies, paints a picture of a chaotic and reckless environment at a mismanaged company that allows too many of its staff access to the platform’s central controls and most sensitive information without adequate oversight. It also alleges that some of the company’s senior-most executives have been trying to cover up Twitter’s serious vulnerabilities, and that one or more current employees may be working for a foreign intelligence service.
The whistleblower, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, was previously the company’s head of security, reporting directly to the CEO. Zatko further alleged that Twitter’s leadership has mislead its own board and government regulators about its security vulnerabilities, including some that could allegedly open the door to foreign spying or manipulation, hacking and disinformation campaigns.
The latest allegations could spark more scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators during a chaotic time for Twitter. Before Musk closed a deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion last year, Twitter’s ex-security head Zatko outlined several security issues at the company, including the allegations that employees had too much access to user data. Twitter fired Zatko, who joined the company after the 2020 security breach. In his Complaint, Zatko accused Twitter of violating the 11-year-old settlement with the FTC. Twitter said Zatko’s allegations were “riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies and lack important context.”
Kyle Gardiner, associate counsel for Whistleblower Aid, who represent Zatko, said in a statement that whistleblowers play a “vital role in exposing what big tech companies have managed for too long to hide from the public and regulators.”
“As these whistleblowers become more numerous and impactful, our hopes is that big tech companies recognize that transparency and accountability are a better way to operate than breaking the law and endangering their users,” Gardiner said.
Additionally, the whistleblower reports says the US government provided specific evidence to Twitter shortly before Zatko’s firing that at least one of its employees, perhaps more, were working for another government’s intelligence service. The report does not say whether Twitter was already aware or if it subsequently acted on the tip.