Modi govt forced Twitter to have agent on payroll, says former security chief

Modi govt forced Twitter to have agent on payroll: In whistleblower disclosures with US regulators, a former senior Twitter executive has alleged that the Indian(Modi) government “forced” the social media company to recruit one or more people who were “government agents” and those who had access to a large amount of user data of the platform. The allegations come amid a legal challenge with the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) over the company’s content blocking order.

Also read: Twitter sues Indian government over content removal orders alleging abuse of power by the govt

Peter ‘Mudge’ Zatko, the former head of security at Twitter, said in his complaint filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), “The company did not actually tell users that the executive team understood that the Indian government was paying the company’s payroll. But has been successful in retaining agents.”

Modi govt forced Twitter to have agent on payroll

He alleged that the company “intentionally” “allowed an agent of the Government of India direct unsecured access to the company’s systems and user data.” A Twitter spokesperson said in a statement that Zatko was fired in January because of his “ineffective leadership and poor performance” at the company.

“What we’ve seen so far is a false assumption about Twitter and our privacy and data security practices, full of discrepancies and inaccuracies and lacking significant context,” he said. Zatco’s allegations and opportunistic timing seem as if they are designed to attract attention and harm to Twitter, its customers and its shareholders. Security and privacy have long been the company’s priority on Twitter and will continue to be.”

In February last year, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) had notified the Information Technology Rules, 2021. These rules made it mandatory for social media companies to lay off critical employees. These include nodal officers – who will liaise solely with law enforcement agencies to assist in the investigation. Companies were also required to appoint a compliance officer, who would ensure compliance with the rules, and a grievance officer, who would address user complaints.

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