Twitter reportedly hired Indian government agents, allowing access to sensitive data

Twitter reportedly hired Indian government agents, allowing access to sensitive data
Twitter. (photo: BBC)

Twitter engaged in negligent security practices, misled federal regulators USAfailed to estimate the actual number of bot on your platform and The most alarming thing is that the company was actively infiltrated by Indian government agentsthis according to a complaint by the former head of Security of the Peiter Zatko platform, according to The Verge platform.

This information could have consequences for Twitter, since if verified it would imply that the company breached a 2010 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC, for its acronym in English) and could also affect the plans to sell the platform in the future.

Relationship between Twitter and the Indian Government

The social network and the Indian government have always had a particularly strained relationship, coming to a head in a 2021 raid of the company’s New Delhi office in response to a Perceived misuse of the “manipulated media” label of the platform.

Twitter moderation in the country is a very controversial issue, as false rumors have often been used to provoking mafia violence against the Muslim minority population. For most defenders of the speech, those decisions are too sensitive to include an employee of the current right-wing government, which some see as implicitly endorsing violence.

As Zatko said, the operational failure that led to the hiring of a government agent was compounded by a basic security flaw. In the SEC filing, he alleged that “half of Twitter’s 10,000 employees and growing” had access to live production systems and sensitive user data.

It’s unclear if that list included the alleged foreign agent, but such an extensive access problem makes any mitigation efforts that much more difficult.

Twitter and the Indian government.  (photo: Forbes India)
Twitter and the Indian government. (photo: Forbes India)

The platform has had problems in India and is currently filing a legal challenge against the government of that country for orders to block certain content who was critical of the Modi administration.

The Indian press, well aware that the surveillance and intimidation of journalists has been steadily increasing in the country, has treated the allegations seriously, although journalists in the country seem to have had problems obtaining additional information from the platform.

“A whistleblower’s revelation that the Indian government forced Twitter to hire its agent, who then gained access to the platform’s user data, should alarm anyone even remotely interested in the health of democracy in India. the country”, reads in an opinion piece in The Hindu, one of the nation’s largest English-language newspapers. “At the very least, it requires an official response from the government, as well as from Twitter.”

Illustration of the Twitter logo about the Indian government.  (photo: CNN)
Illustration of the Twitter logo about the Indian government. (photo: CNN)

The stakes in the problem are high due to Twitter’s nearly global reach and the large amount of sensitive data it protects. Although the content of tweets is public by default, direct messages function as a private channel between users, but one that many employees can intercept.

It’s not just foreign governments that could try to break Twitter’s security from within. Another section of Zatko’s disclosure details his attempt to lock down Twitter’s systems to defend against potential insider threats after the January 6 insurrection, and the subsequent discovery that there was no way to make this happen.