fogn.png
Thursday December 8th, 2022 9:53PM

Congress wants to hear what Twitter whistleblower has to say

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. lawmakers are anxious to hear from Twitter’s former security chief, who has alarmed Washington with allegations that the influential social network misled regulators about its cyber defenses and efforts to control fake accounts.

Leaders of several congressional panels are poring over the disclosures by respected cybersecurity expert Peiter Zatko, and calls on Capitol Hill for investigations are mounting. Zatko is due to testify next month at a Senate hearing.

In addition to informing Congress, Zatko filed a complaint last month with the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Among Zatko’s most serious accusations is that Twitter violated the terms of a 2011 FTC settlement by falsely claiming that it had put stronger measures in place to protect the security and privacy of its users.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., called on the FTC to investigate.

“These troubling disclosures paint the picture of a company that has consistently and repeatedly prioritized profits over the safety of its users and its responsibility to the public," Blumenthal wrote to FTC Chair Lina Khan.

Twitter has said Zatko’s complaint is “riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies and lacks important context.”

Zatko also accused the San Francisco-based company of deceptions involving its handling of “spam,” or fake, accounts, an allegation that is at the core of billionaire tycoon Elon Musk’s attempt to back out of his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter.

The Senate Judiciary Committee announced Wednesday that Zatko will testify at a hearing on Sept. 13 — the same day Twitter's shareholders are scheduled to vote on the company's pending buyout by Musk. The Twitter board is recommending approval of the buyout.

A trial on Twitter’s lawsuit against Musk to force him to go through with the acquisition is scheduled for October.

The Judiciary Committee's chairman, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and its senior Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a joint statement Wednesday that if Zatko's claims are accurate, “they may show dangerous data-privacy and security risks for Twitter users around the world."

They said the panel “will investigate this issue further with a full committee hearing ... and take further steps as needed to get to the bottom of these alarming allegations."

The SEC is questioning Twitter about how it counts fake accounts on its platform. In June, the securities regulators asked the company about its methodology for calculating the number of false or spam accounts and “the underlying judgments and assumptions used by management.” The numbers are key to Twitter's business because it uses them to attract advertisers, whose payments make up a little more than 90% of its revenue.

Twitter, with an estimated 238 million daily active users, said last month that it removes 1 million spam accounts daily.

Senior members of the Senate Intelligence and Commerce committees, as well as the House Energy and Commerce panel, also have publicly signaled their engagement on the issue. The Senate Intelligence Committee is planning a meeting with Zatko to discuss his allegations, a spokeswoman said, adding, “We take this matter seriously.”

With the midterm elections looming in early November, many lawmakers may wish to appear before TV cameras expressing concern about online privacy, an issue that resonates with consumers. That means camera lights glaring and outrage thundering from elected representatives as a lone whistleblower stands and takes the oath behind a table ringed by a photographers’ mosh pit — a scene that would mirror former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen's testimony late last year.

“If Twitter whistleblower (and head of security) Peiter Zatko left you asking, ‘How could it possibly be this bad???,' you're not alone," Haugen tweeted Thursday. “Twitter's problems aren't unique, and we should worry."

Haugen’s far-reaching condemnation of Facebook and her allegation that it prioritized profits over safety of the platform were buttressed by a trove of internal Facebook documents. Zatko’s complaint, by contrast, appears to stand alone, though there may be references to other documents in the unredacted version of the complaint. The Associated Press has been able to view only a redacted version.

Other possible witnesses at congressional hearings could include former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and current CEO Parag Agrawal.

Zatko’s attorneys have said that in late 2021, after Twitter’s board was given “whitewashed” information about security problems, Zatko escalated his concerns, “clashed” with Agrawal and board member Omid Kordestani, and was fired two weeks later.

The Twitter debacle has raised hopes among some lawmakers that it could give a boost to comprehensive data-privacy legislation, which has been stalled for years but recently cleared a key House committee — bringing it closer than ever to final passage. It has been held up in the Senate, however.

Rep. Frank Pallone, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and its senior Republican, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, issued a joint statement saying the panel “is actively reviewing the Twitter whistleblower disclosure and assessing next steps.”

“There are still a lot of unknowns and questions that need to be answered,” they said. “Many of these allegations, if true, are alarming and reaffirm the need for Congress to pass comprehensive national consumer privacy legislation to protect Americans’ online data.”

__

Follow Marcy Gordon at https://twitter.com/mgordonap

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Business - Consumer News, AP Technology News
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge orders unsealing of redacted affidavit in Trump search
A judge has ordered the Justice Department to make public a redacted version of the affidavit it relied on when federal agents searched the Florida estate of former President Donald Trump to look for classified documents
3:49PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Voting machine tampering points to concern for fall election
An apparent attempt by a voter in Colorado to tamper with a voting machine during the state's primary this summer has heightened concerns among election officials and security experts
3:41PM ( 34 minutes ago )
Student loan crisis awaits new generation despite Biden plan
President Joe Biden’s student loan cancellation offers a life-changing financial break for millions of Americans
3:29PM ( 47 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Court: Arkansas can't ban treatment of transgender kids
A federal appeals court has agreed with a judge's ruling preventing the state from enforcing a ban on transgender children receiving gender-affirming medical care
2:50PM ( 1 hour ago )
Gov. Brian Kemp fights subpoena in Georgia election probe
The judge presiding over a special grand jury that’s investigating possible illegal attempts to influence the 2020 election in Georgia has heard arguments as he considers whether Gov. Brian Kemp has to testify, and if so, when
2:36PM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump search: Judge given proposed redactions to affidavit
The Justice Department has submitted to a judge a redacted version of the affidavit it relied on when federal agents searched the Florida estate of former President Donald Trump to look for classified documents
1:52PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Biden kicks off midterm rally in safely Democratic Maryland
President Joe Biden is aiming to turn months of legislative accomplishments into political energy
12:13PM ( 4 hours ago )
Oz's Senate bid could be a Muslim first but is 'complicated'
If Dr. Mehmet Oz is elected to the U.S. Senate this fall, he'll be the first Muslim to serve in the chamber
1:04AM ( 15 hours ago )
Cosmetics giant Sephora settles customer data privacy suit
Sephora Inc. has settled a lawsuit claiming the company sold customer information without proper notice in violation of the California’s landmark consumer privacy law
6:30PM ( 21 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Climate change alters life at Fed's Jackson Hole conference
When officials of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City sought a location for an annual economic symposium in 1981, they chose Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for a simple reason: It had fly-fishing
2:50PM ( 1 hour ago )
California looks to phase out gas-fueled vehicles
California is poised to require all new cars, trucks and SUVs sold in the state to be powered by electricity or hydrogen by 2035
2:23PM ( 1 hour ago )
British sewage overflows stink up relations across Channel
EU lawmakers have a new reason to be annoyed with Britain: British sewage overflows seeping into the English Channel and North Sea
1:40PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
Hungary's govt launches investigation against second airline
Hungary’s government has ordered an investigation of domestic low-cost carrier Wizz Air over what it calls possible breaches of consumer protection laws
7:53AM ( 3 days ago )
Bank of America's overdraft fees down 90% under new policy
Bank of America says the revenue it gets from overdrafts has dropped 90% from a year ago, after the bank reduced overdraft fees to $10 from $35 and eliminated fees for bounced checks
8:24PM ( 1 week ago )
Over-the-counter hearing aids expected this fall in US
U.S. regulators have finalized a long-awaited rule that's expected to allow millions of Americans to buy hearing aids without a prescription
7:21PM ( 1 week ago )
AP Business - Consumer News
California poised to phase out sale of new gas-powered cars
California is poised to required 100% of new cars, trucks and SUVs sold in the state to be powered by electricity or hydrogen by 2035
9:54AM ( 6 hours ago )
SEC questions Twitter on how it counts fake accounts
U.S. securities regulators are questioning Twitter about how it calculates the number of fake accounts on its platform
7:16PM ( 21 hours ago )
'Pre-bunking' shows promise in fight against misinformation
Google and a team of university researchers have hit on what they say could be an effective way to make people more impervious to the harmful impact of online misinformation
5:42PM ( 22 hours ago )
AP Technology News
Judge orders unsealing of redacted affidavit in Trump search
A judge has ordered the Justice Department to make public a redacted version of the affidavit it relied on when federal agents searched the Florida estate of former President Donald Trump to look for classified documents
3:49PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Voting machine tampering points to concern for fall election
An apparent attempt by a voter in Colorado to tamper with a voting machine during the state's primary this summer has heightened concerns among election officials and security experts
3:41PM ( 36 minutes ago )
Student loan crisis awaits new generation despite Biden plan
President Joe Biden’s student loan cancellation offers a life-changing financial break for millions of Americans
3:29PM ( 48 minutes ago )
Former Browns center, NFLPA president JC Tretter retires
Former Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter announced his retirement after eight seasons in the NFL
3:27PM ( 50 minutes ago )
Nebraska school officials close newspaper after LGBTQ issue
Administrators of a Nebraska public school have shuttered the school’s award-winning student newspaper, just days after its last edition that included articles and editorials on LGBTQ issues
3:18PM ( 59 minutes ago )