Elon Musk Subpoenas Twitter Whistleblower Ahead Of Trial

Peiter Zatko’s allegations of security flaws could bolster Musk’s case for backing out of the $44 billion acquisition.

Elon Musk’s legal team has issued a subpoena to a whistleblower at Twitter ahead of an Oct. 17 trial in Delaware.

The subpoena emerged Monday because of a whistleblower complaint made by former Twitter head of security Peiter Zatko against the company. Zatko made allegations of security issues, fake “bot” accounts and fraud. Musk’s lawyers believe the Tesla CEO could use Zatko’s accusations as grounds for breaking the agreement he made to buy the social media company in April for $44 billion, according to The New York Times.

In the complaint, obtained by The Washington Post, Zatko claimed Twitter has withheld “extreme, egregious deficiencies” from federal regulators and board members, including Musk. Zatko also accused the social media platform of violating a 2011 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that concerned the security of users’ personal information.

The complaint, with assistance from the nonprofit legal organization Whistleblower Aid, was filed in July with the FTC, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice.

The SEC questioned Twitter in June about its methods of catching fake accounts and “the underlying judgments and assumptions used by management,” according to The Associated Press.

Zatko was a security executive for Twitter from November 2020 until January 2022. He was fired from the company for “ineffective leadership and poor performance,” according to a Twitter spokesperson.

The spokesperson said Zatko’s complaint is a “false narrative about Twitter and our privacy and data practices,” and said his “opportunistic timing” appears “designed to capture attention and inflict harm on Twitter.”

Musk recently filed a subpoena against former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey over what he described as the company’s inability to provide information about fake accounts. Musk also said the firing of managers and other employees was the reason for his decision to back out of buying the company in July.

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