Congress Needs To Defend Data Privacy After Twitter Whistleblower Report

Peiter “Mudge” Zatko testified regarding claims in his whistleblower report last month. 

Twitter executives’ failure to protect user data prompted the Senate hearing. Zatko detailed a lack of institutional care for users’ data privacy or platform cybersecurity in his whistleblower report. 

Deeply Rooted

Bipartisan displeasure persisted throughout the Senate session as if Twitter were a long-cherished American company recently struck with terrible leadership. 

However, Americans should ask if Twitter ever had a pedestal from which it fell, causing this disillusionment in its lack of interest in anything but business. 

Senators may be shocked by Twitter’s lack of internal security measures, but they should be more shocked by lawmakers who allowed Silicon Valley’s oligarchy to thrive. 

If Mudge’s testimony isn’t enough to convince Congress to investigate Silicon Valley, America needs new lawmakers. 

On Twitter, “You’ll own nothing but be joyful” is a reality. Around 4,000 Twitter employees have unfettered access, Mudge told Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO).

4,000 unchecked staff could read direct messages, “hijack” accounts, and monitor every scroll and click on Twitter. 

Every decision you make on Twitter is vulnerable to a Silicon Valley engineer’s fancies. Unhindered Twitter controls could give this access to a CCP agent. 

Mudge’s testimony revealed at least one Chinese spy at Twitter. Whether the foreign operative was Chinese, Indian, or Saudi is irrelevant to how unaccountable a crucial American public utility is.

Mudge told lawmakers Twitter wasn’t obligated to investigate foreign meddling because it profited from loose regulation. Twitter and Silicon Valley should fix this situation. 

Herein lays the problem in expecting the “free market” to tackle Big Tech’s oligarchy. Corporate data security requires a large financial and workforce investment. 

Mudge “hoped” Twitter’s leadership would follow more prudent security measures in response to Sen. Dick Durbin’s questions. 

Hope isn’t enough to fight commercial surveillance’s desires for unrestrained data access. 

No Regards

Twitter and its Silicon tech partners regard Americans as users like drug cartels do. Twitter uses us for business and ideology. 

We’re no longer startled by Mudge’s whistleblower report. Tech giants will oppress a class of Americans unless prohibited by law.

Tech policy by hope has failed us. We shouldn’t expect Elon Musk or another billionaire to save an essential tech common carrier for us. Musk is doing all he can to avoid buying Twitter, despite shareholders approving his offer. 

Musk controlling Twitter might make it friendlier to free expression, but he’d encounter institutional opposition to substantial reform, allowing politicians to dodge accountability. 

The corruption Musk must disclose is so profound that Twitter has no testing environment. This means every hotfix is tested on real Twitter accounts, not in a practice environment. 

Americans are a research experiment for engineers with odd worldviews and no legal commitment to the common good. 

Without a testing environment for new features, Twitter’s business and processes are exposed as reckless and juvenile. 

Congress should enact a tech law that includes antitrust, expression, data privacy, and child protection. We’ll discuss bill details later. 

Corporate leaders ought to be personally accountable for breaching laws written by lawmakers. Peiter “Mudge” Zatko said corporate fines are pointless. 

It’s time to hold Silicon Valley corporate decision-makers fully liable for the failure of duty as CEOs of vital American common carriers.