Republican urges Twitter chief Elon Musk to better protect US user data


By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top Senate Republican Chuck Grassley urged Elon Musk, who recently took over Twitter, to conduct a threat assessment at the social company to better protect US user data, following concerns from a whistleblower.

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

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

“Twitter collects massive amounts of data on US citizens. Americans have every interest in ensuring that their private information is safe and that the companies that own it

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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 personal information from Twitter users, among other things, and use that to access sensitive data on the person’s phone.

The correspondence echoed some concerns raised in an earlier letter from Grassley and Democrat Dick Durbin in September to former CEO Parag Agrawal, who ran the company until October, when Musk took over in a $44 billion deal.

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

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; editing by Alexandra Hudson)