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Twitter officials ordered whistleblower Peiter Zatko to destroy evidence of their missteps, Elon Musk alleges. According to released court documents, Zatko, the former head of security at Twitter, said that as part of a severance agreement, company administrators ordered him to destroy 10 handwritten notebooks and delete 100 computer files. The documents reveal that the books had notes from the whistleblower's with business associates during his one-year tenure as security head.

Also Read: Elon Musk, Parag Agrawal bonded over engineering before Twitter deal

“Twitter’s attempt to buy Mr. Zatko’s silence failed, but Twitter achieved its secondary aim of ensuring Mr. Zatko’s corroborating evidence would never come to light," Musk’s lawyers said on October 10. Regarding Musk's accusations in the suit, Twitter didn't comment right away.

When testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September, Zatko created controversy in Washington by asserting that Twitter's careless handling of computer security was detrimental to US national security.

Also Read: Elon Musk wants to go ahead with Twitter deal

Twitter claims that Zatko was fired in January due to poor performance and that he presented an incorrect account of the company's privacy and data security policies that is replete with errors and omissions and lacks crucial context.

Zatko has been the focus of Musk's claims that Twitter deceived him about a variety of operational issues at the social media site, which allowed him to back out of the $44 billion acquisition. The billionaire then changed his mind last week and consented to purchase the company for the initial share price of $54.20.

Also Read: Explained: Why does Elon Musk want to buy Twitter again?

On October 3, Delaware Chancery Judge Kathaleen St. J. McCormick put the case on hold and gave Musk and Twitter until October 28 to finalise their agreement. Musk's attorneys are requesting that McCormick punish Twitter's lawyers for having destroyed potential case-related evidence.

Musk's attorneys assert that, by directing Zatko to erase his records, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, Twitter's top two attorneys, Vijaya Gadde and Sean Edgett, and Chief Privacy Officer Damien Kieran attempted to conceal the company's violations of the court settlements.

Also Read: Elon Musk says we’re in big trouble if aliens visit Earth; he explains why

The document-destruction order deprived Musk’s legal team of “critical corroborating evidence of Mr. Zatko’s allegations, which would support his account of key meetings and conversations relevant to this case," according to the unsealed filing.

Zatko contends he warned Agrawal about serious computer security issues and privacy concerns tied to the social-media platform’s operations that amounted to violations of settlements the company reached with government regulators. He also said his Twitter colleagues showed little interest in doing a deep dive into the issue of how many spam and robot accounts were included among the company’s more than 230 million users.

(With agency inputs)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sounak Mukhopadhyay
Sounak Mukhopadhyay, who also goes by the name Sounak Mukherjee, has been producing digital news since 2012. He's worked for the International Business Times, The Inquisitr, and Moneycontrol in the past. He's also contributed to Free Press Journal and TheRichest with feature articles. He covers news for a wide range of subjects including business, finance, economy, politics and social media. Before working with digital news publications, he worked as a freelance content writer.
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