Hillicon Valley — Twitter whistleblower to testify in Senate
The Twitter whistleblower alleging major security deficiencies at the company will testify before a Senate panel when lawmakers return from recess in September.
We’ll also take a look at how the whistleblower’s accusations are impacting Elon Musk’s argument in his case against Twitter seeking to back out of his $44 billion deal to buy the company.
This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Send tips to The Hill’s Rebecca Klar and Ines Kagubare. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.
(Another) tech whistleblower heads to DC
Twitter’s former security chief, who alleged the company has major security deficiencies in a bombshell whistleblower disclosure, will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September, the committee said Wednesday.
The whistleblower, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, will participate in a hearing aimed at examining the allegations of security failures at Twitter.
“Mr. Zatko’s allegations of widespread security failures and foreign state actor interference at Twitter raise serious concerns. If these claims are accurate, they may show dangerous data privacy and security risks for Twitter users around the world,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a joint statement.
“The Senate Judiciary Committee will investigate this issue further with a full Committee hearing this work period, and take further steps as needed to get to the bottom of these alarming allegations,” the senators added.
The Musk factor
A bombshell Twitter whistleblower complaint alleging the company has major security deficiencies is adding fuel to Elon Musk’s core argument in his case against Twitter as he tries to back out of his $44 billion deal to buy the platform.
Former Twitter security chief Peiter Zatko’s complaint, made public Tuesday, complicates the legal challenge for the social media platform. Twitter is suing in an effort to force Musk to complete his acquisition of the company after he walked away from his binding offer over accusations that Twitter breached the agreement by failing to provide him with sufficient data about spam accounts.
- Zatko has had no contact with Musk, and the drafting of the complaint predates Musk’s involvement with Twitter, according to Whistleblower Aid, the group representing Zatko.
- Nonetheless, key portions of the redacted 84-page complaint, published by The Washington Post, appear to bolster Musk’s accusations, even referencing tweets from Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal to Musk about the number of bots on the platform as a “recent example of misrepresentations.”
- Musk’s legal team is already leaning into using Zatko’s complaint as the Musk-Twitter case heads to an October trial.
DON’T COMPLAIN TO MUSK
Tesla CEO Elon Musk told a customer not to “complain” about the self-driving bug issues with Tesla vehicles.
A Tesla customer on Tuesday posted a series of videos on Twitter showing how the company’s new beta version of its Full Self-Driving service, 10.69, has difficulty making signaled turns, changing driving lanes and other basic tasks.
The customer also wrote in a tweet that he had to pay more than $32,000 to receive the latest updates for the vehicle’s system.
“Unfortunately I have to say I’m still having to intervene to correct #FSDBeta 10.69 in my area. Still lots of work to go,” the customer wrote. “I know this is probably not a popular opinion but the focusing on the ‘Chuck’ complex left is getting ahead of the needs of some more basic control issues.”
ZUCKERBERG DROPPED FROM FTC VR SUIT
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) entered an agreement with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday to drop him from an ongoing antitrust lawsuit attempting to block the company’s purchase of a virtual reality company.
A joint court filing stipulates that Zuckerberg will not purchase the company, Within Unlimited, as an individual or through any entity controlled by Zuckerberg in exchange for being removed as a defendant in the suit.
The lawsuit, filed by the FTC late last month, accuses Meta of a years-long “campaign to conquer VR” that began as early as March 2014, when then-Facebook acquired headset-maker Oculus VR.
The suit targets Meta’s attempt to buy Within Unlimited, a virtual reality developer that designed fitness app Supernatural. The app enables users to participate in workout sessions set to music from prominent artists while in a virtual reality environment that mimics destinations across the globe.
CISA HIGHLIGHTS THREATS FROM QUANTUM COMPUTING
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released new advice Wednesday on ways critical infrastructure should prepare for potential security risks stemming from quantum computing.
While quantum computing provides greater speed and power than classical computers, the emerging technology comes with potential risks, including data breaches, that could threaten the security of business transactions, secure communications, digital signatures and customer information.
“While post-quantum computing is expected to produce significant benefits, we must take action now to manage potential risks, including the ability to break public key encryption that U.S. networks rely on to secure sensitive information,” Mona Harrington, acting assistant director for CISA’s National Risk Management Center, said in a statement.
“Critical infrastructure and government leaders must be proactive and begin preparing for the transition to post-quantum cryptography now,” Harrington added.
BITS & PIECES
An op-ed to chew on: More than networks, America needs better cybersecurity
Notable links from around the web:
Meta Learned Via a Tweet of FTC’s Suit to Block VR Deal (Bloomberg / Alex Barinka, Leah Nylen and Sarah Frier)
How Ukraine used Russia’s digital playbook against the Kremlin (Politico / Mark Scott)
Google is launching an experiment to curb anti-Ukraine misinformation in Europe. It just might work. (Protocol / Issie Lapowsky)
🐕 Lighter click: Where’s our invite?
One more thing: Walking it back
Capitol Records has announced that it is walking away from an artificial intelligence rapper project after receiving backlash for the AI model’s “gross stereotypes” of the Black community.
“CMG has severed ties with the FN Meka project, effective immediately,” the Capitol Music Group said in a statement on Tuesday. “We offer our deepest apologies to the Black community for our insensitivity in signing this project without asking enough questions about equity and the creative process behind it. We thank those who have reached out to us with constructive feedback in the past couple of days — your input was invaluable as we came to the decision to end our association with the project.”
FN Meka, a virtual rapper powered by AI, was first created by Factory New in 2019, according to The New York Times. The virtual rapper has amassed more than 10 million followers on its TikTok profile.