India forced Twitter to hire GoI agent to access users’ sensitive data, claims whistleblower

Former Twitter security head Peiter 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.

Zatko’s whistleblower disclosure in an 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”.

In its report, the Washington Post quotes a “person familiar with the matter” as agreeing with Zakto’s allegation and that the hired employee was “probably an agent”.

In another section titled ‘Squeezing Local Staff’, the former Twitter security chief alleges that the Indian government sought “with varying success” to force 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,” the complaint notes.


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