Wherever you stand on the political compass, foreign agents making their way into our companies is dangerous.
Former Twitter security chief Peiter Zatko told US lawmakers on Tuesday that Twitter has at least one Chinese agent at the company.
Zatko alleged that the FBI warned Twitter that the company employed a Chinese foreign agent.
“I had been told because the corporate security physical security team had been contacted and told that there was at least one agent of the MSS which is one of China’s intelligence services on the payroll inside Twitter,” Zatko said at a Senate hearing on Tuesday.
The revelation at the hearing came after Zatko — better known by his hacker name “Mudge” — had already alleged the company knowingly allowed an agent for the Indian government to work inside Twitter with access to user data.
Zatko’s complaint, which was submitted to US authorities in July, indicated that the US government had provided Twitter with specific information that at least one of its employees, perhaps more, may be working for a foreign intelligence agency, but it did not specify which countries the agents were allegedly working for.
“Today’s hearing only confirms that Mr. Zatko’s allegations are riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies,” a Twitter spokesperson told Insider.
An FBI spokesperson did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
“While it was disturbing to hear, I and many others had recognized the state of the environment at Twitter,” Zatko said. “If you are not placing foreign agents inside Twitter — because it’s very difficult to detect them [and] it is very valuable to a foreign agent to be inside there — as a foreign intelligence [agency], you’re most likely not doing your job.”
The former security chief said he informed an executive of the threat and was told “What does it matter if we have more [foreign agents]?”
The Twitter whistleblower’s 84-page complaint was first publicly reported last month. In his complaint, Zatko accused the company of “lying” to Elon Musk about spam accounts on its site, and having poor security practices that could violate a previous FTC settlement agreement.
The whistleblower complaint is also relevant in Twitter’s ongoing legal battle with Elon Musk. The social media company is attempting to get the billionaire to follow through on his agreement to purchase the company for $44 billion after he attempted to pull out of the deal in July.
Musk’s legal team has already amended its countersuit against Twitter to include Zatko’s allegations. The five-day trial is set to go to court in October.