Sunday, February 5, 2023

Twitter’s Security And Privacy Leaders Quit Amidst Musk’s Chaotic Takeover

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Twitter CEO Elon Musk loses his heads of security, privacy and compliance, potentially causing more headaches for the social media giant.

Muhammed Selim Korkutata/Anadolu AgencyTwitter’s security, privacy and compliance leaders all left the company in the last 24 hours, less than two weeks after its acquisition by billionaire Elon Musk.

Lea Kissner, who had been the chief information security officer since April 2021, announced her decision to leave publicly on Twitter. “I’ve made the hard decision to leave Twitter. I’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing people and I’m so proud of the privacy, security and IT teams and the work we’ve done,” Kissner, a former Apple employee, wrote.

A source with knowledge of the matter said that chief privacy officer Damien Kieran had also quit, though he has not made a public statement. He began his Twitter career seven years ago as head of global data protection.

The same source said Marianne Fogarty, head of compliance, left, too. She had been with the company since 2015.

The news comes a matter of months after Twitter whistle blower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, the former head of security, claimed the company was irresponsibly handling user information. He also claimed Twitter had allowed government agents from India and China on its workforce, even after the Justice Department had convicted a Saudi Arabian employee for spying on dissidents.

Twitter, as well as Kissner, Kieran and Fogarty, did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Journalist Casey Newton first reported the trio had departed and said that an employee had posted about the resignations on Twitter’s Slack. The staffer noted that without that leadership, engineers would have to guarantee they were compliant with FTC regulations on their own. “All of this is extremely dangerous for our users,” the Twitter employee wrote, according to Newton. As the FTC is able to fine Twitter billions for any security or privacy failings that harm users, it would be “extremely detrimental to Twitter’s longevity as a platform. Our users deserve so much better than this.” The message closed out with a link to Whistleblower Aid.

Earlier this year, Twitter was slapped with a $150 million fine by the FTC after it used telephone numbers and emails for targeted advertising, even though they were only supposed to be used for multi-factor authentication logins.

According to The Verge, the Slack message went on to say that the employee had “heard Alex Spiro (current head of Legal) say that Elon is willing to take on a huge amount of risk in relation to this company and its users, because ‘Elon puts rockets into space, he’s not afraid of the FTC.’” They added that they anticipated all employees would be “pressured by management into pushing out changes that will likely lead to major incidents.”

Musk had already fired large swaths of the Twitter workforce, including former CEO Parag Agrawal and a number of employees who were tasked with monitoring the midterm elections. Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that the company asked some employees it had let go to come back.

This is a developing story.

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