Judge: Musk can’t delay case, can use Twitter whistleblower

Tech

Elon Musk (Patrick Pleul/pool photo via AP, archive)

DOVER, Del. (NewsNation) — Elon Musk will not be able to delay his October trial as he attempts to get out of his $44 billion deal to purchase Twitter, a judge ruled Wednesday. He will, however, be allowed to include new evidence from a Twitter whistleblower.

Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick, the head judge of Delaware’s Court of Chancery, denied the Tesla CEO’s request for a four-week delay.

Twitter has sued Musk, asking the Delaware court to force him to go through with the deal he made in April to buy the company. Musk has countersued and a trial is set to start the week of Oct. 17.

Because of McCormick’s ruling, Musk will be allowed to add evidence related to allegations of poor cybersecurity practices made by Peiter Zatko, a former Twitter security chief. 

Zatko is scheduled to testify before Congress next week on those allegations.

In a whistleblower complaint obtained by The Washington Post and CNN, Zatko said he warned colleagues that half of the company’s servers were out of date and that executives withheld facts about the number of breaches and lack of protection of user data. Directors were given “rosy charts” measuring unimportant changes, Zatko alleges.

“Twitter is grossly negligent in several areas of information security,” Zatko said in the complaint, according to the Washington Post. “If these problems are not corrected, regulators, media and users of the platform will be shocked when they inevitably learn about Twitter’s severe lack of security basics.”

Allegations about Twitter’s handling of spam accounts are at the core of Musk’s threats to walk away from buying the company for $44 billion.

Another damning accusation included in Zatko’s complaint is that Twitter knowingly allowed the Indian government to put its agents on the company payroll, where they had “direct unsupervised access to the company’s systems and user data.” Twitter was also heavily reliant on funding by Chinese entities, the complaint said, and there were concerns within Twitter that the company was providing information to those entities that would allow them to learn the identity of and sensitive information about Chinese users who secretly use Twitter, which is officially banned in China.

A Twitter spokesperson told NewsNation in a statement that Zatko was fired in January of this year for “ineffective leadership and poor performance.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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