Republican presses Twitter chief Elon Musk to better protect U.S. user data

Reuters | November 23, 2022

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By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top Senate Republican Chuck Grassley urged Elon Musk, who recently acquired Twitter, to conduct a threat assessment at the social company to better protect U.S. user data, following up on concerns raised by a whistleblower.

Hacker Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, a whistleblower who served as Twitter’s head of security until his firing in January, testified in September that some Twitter employees were concerned the Chinese government would be able to collect data on the company’s users.

In a letter to Musk dated Tuesday and released on Wednesday, Grassley, the top Republican on the U.S. Judiciary Committee, asked Twitter to perform a threat assessment “of Twitter’s current security posture and systems to better protect user data and privacy.” He also asked for the committee staff to be briefed on the findings.

“Twitter collects vast amounts of data on American citizens. Americans have a vested interest in ensuring that their private data is secure, and that the companies which they have

entrusted with their private data have not been infiltrated by foreign agents,” Grassley wrote.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Zatko testified that a foreign agent could use malware to steal Twitter users personal information, and use that to gain access to sensitive data on the person’s phone, among other dangers.

The correspondence reiterated some concerns raised in a prior letter sent by Grassley and Democrat Dick Durbin in September to former chief executive Parag Agrawal, who led the company until October, when Musk took it over in a $44 billion deal.

According to Grassley, Agrawal did not respond to the letter, citing litigation with Musk.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)