Elon Musk and his legal team continue to seek ways to exploit the damaging claims by Twitter whistleblower Peiter Zatko.

Zatko, known as “Mudge” in computer security circles, accused the firm of “material misrepresentation and omissions” about its security and privacy protections in a federal whistleblower complaint that came to light last week.

Twitter has strongly rejected the claims and has said its security and privacy are “company-wide priorities”.

Whistleblower allegations

Peiter Zatko is the former head of security until Twitter fired him in January, allegedly for “ineffective leadership and poor performance.”

Twitter Shake-Up Sees Departure Of Top Security Staff

Zatko had joined Twitter in November 2020, following a hack that allowed teenagers to tweet from the verified accounts of public figures such as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and others, including Elon Musk.

Zatko maintains he was fired in retaliation for concerns he was raising regarding security vulnerabilities at the company.

Seven months after being let go from Twitter, Zatko made a series of stunning claims against his former employer, including that security flaws at Twitter are so bad they are a threat to people’s personal data, and even democracy and American national security.

Zatko alleged that nearly half of Twitter’s employees have access to some of the platform’s main critical controls. Zatko said this was like being on an aeroplane, where nearly every passenger and flight attendant has access to the cockpit and flight controls.

Zatko also alleged some of the company’s senior-most executives have been trying to cover up Twitter’s serious vulnerabilities, and he claims that one or more current employees may be working for a foreign intelligence service.

Zatko alleged that the Indian government forced the social media platform to put a government agent on the payroll.

He alleged the government agent would have had access to sensitive user data due to Twitter’s weak security infrastructure, Zatko alleged in his filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Trial delay?

It should be remembered that in August, a US court convicted a former Twitter manager accused of spying for Saudi Arabia on six criminal counts.

Zatko will testify on 13 September before the Senate Judiciary Committee, about his allegations.

Following his allegations, Elon Musk’s legal team immediately subpoenaed Zatko, as Musk continues to seek information about the way Twitter measures spam accounts, as well as its attempts to hide security weaknesses.

Now CNN reported that in a Monday court filing, Musk’s team proposed a new schedule with the trial taking place sometime in November (instead of 17 October), depending on the court’s availability.

Included in the exhibits attached to the motion, one of which was sealed, was a copy of Zatko’s disclosures.

Musk’s team has also asked the court for the opportunity to update their counterclaims and response to Twitter’s initial complaint.

A Twitter spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Business that the company remains “committed to closing the transaction on the price and terms agreed upon with Mr. Musk. We have not breached any of our representations or obligations under the Agreement, and have not suffered and are not likely to suffer a Company Material Adverse Effect.”

The motion to push back the trial comes after Musk on Monday sent a letter to Twitter citing Zatko’s disclosure as additional justification for terminating the acquisition.

The letter claims that if the allegations are true, Twitter breached its side of the deal.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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