Parliament panel reprimand top Twitter officials over security, privacy issues
A parliamentary panel has reprimanded top Twitter officials over the allegations of a whistleblower on its India operations, PTI reported. The panel was furious with the Twitter executives as their reply on issues of data security and privacy was "not satisfactory", it said. However, the company officials refuted the allegations and denied there was any data security breach in India, sources told PTI.
Why does this story matter?
- In February, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) demanded Twitter to remove some of the user posts that were perceived to be critical of the ruling administration.
- It also threatened criminal prosecution if Twitter did not comply.
- Later, Twitter filed an appeal with the Karnataka High Court. However, it had to remove the tweets after notifying the respective users.
Twitter officials questioned over whistleblower's claims
Top Twitter executives who deposed before the panel include Senior Director (Public Policy) Samiran Gupta and Director (Public Policy) Shagufta Kamran over the issue of compromise of user security and privacy. Recently, former Twitter security chief Pieter Zatko has accused the Indian government of forcing the social media giant to hire its agents, so they could have access to sensitive user data.
Data security and privacy the major concerns
Indian government succeeded in placing its agents in Twitter
The complaint alleges that Twitter was aware that the Indian government had succeeded in placing its agents and "knowingly permitted" them unsupervised access. It claims that Twitter had falsified its transparency reports and lied to regulators about security checks and balances. It further says that the architectural structure of Twitter was very weak and it was bound to fail against cyber attacks.
Twitter denied allegations, terms them "false narrative"
Twitter refuted the charges, calling them a "false narrative." According to the social media giant, the claims were made in order to get attention and cause harm to the company, its consumers, and shareholders. Notably, the panel has been talking with various parties about the security and privacy of residents' data. It is also working on an in-depth report on data privacy and security.
Zatko was sacked citing poor performance
Zatko, better known as Mudge, is a well-known hacker. Twitter let him go earlier this year due to poor performance. The supporting material was forwarded by Zatko's lawyers to the US Justice Department's National Security Division and the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. John Katko, a Republican representative from New York, said that half of Twitter's staff have extensive access to controls.