September 23, 2023

Qazi Mizan: An explosive whistleblower complaint filed by former Twitter security chief PeiterZatko alleges that Indian government forced the social media company to hire an individual who was a “government agent” and likely had access to sensitive user data as part of their job.

The complaint – an 84-pages filing that was sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission, indicates that supporting and corroboratory information for this allegation has been sent by Zatko’s lawyers to the National Security Division of the US Justice Department and the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

In a section, titled ‘Penetration by Foreign Intelligence & Threats to Democracy’, says that Zatko became aware of “multiple episodes” in which Twitter had been complicit in threats to democratic governance.

The complaint notes, “The Indian government forced Twitter to hire specific individual(s) who were government agents, who (because of Twitter’s basica architectural flaws) would have access to vast amounts of Twitter sensitive data.”

“By knowingly permitting an Indian government agent direct unsupervised access to the company’s systems and user data, Twitter executives violated the company’s commitments to its users”. In another section, titled ‘Squeezing Local Staff’, the former Twitter security chief alleges that the Indian government sought “with varying success” to force Twitter to hire local full-time employees that “could be used as leverage”.

The complaint added, “The threat of harm to Twitter employees was sufficient to cause Twitter to seriously consider complying with foreign government requests that Twitter would otherwise fundamentally oppose.”India is perpetually persecuting the voices of dissent since long. Prime Minister Modi’s government and BJP had taken increasingly strong steps to curb dissent in the country of 1.4 billion.

According to global media watchdog Reporters without Borders (RSF), which published 2022 World Press Freedom Index said, India’s press freedom ranking fell eight places from 142 in 2021 to 150 in 2022. Modi’s government is clamping down on free speech and silencing opponents in the world’s largest democracy. US think tank Freedom House recently said Modi and his party are driving India toward “authoritarianism.”

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