Twitter agreed to pay whistleblower Peiter Zatko about $7 million dollars in settlement money back in June. Zatko also signed a non-disclosure agreement, as part of the settlement, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal, which is based on an unspecified number of anonymous “people familiar with the matter.”
The settlement apparently preceded Zatko’s official complaint, which was sent to lawmakers in July and leaked to The Washington Post about two weeks ago.
Instead, the agreement and payout were reportedly part of Zatko’s departure from Twitter, and related to a protracted negotiation over owed pay. As WSJ points out, it is pretty normal for departing tech executives to receive settlement moneyespecially when they leave on less-than-ideal terms.
In his complaint Zatko, who was formerly head of security for the company, alleged that the social media platform has been knowingly failing on multiple security fronts. Among other things, Zatko claimed Twitter doesn’t protect user data, is lying to regulators about its privacy practices, and opts not to accurately account for or regulate bots on the site.
Since the documents’ release, Zatko has been subpoenaed to testify by Congress, and also by Elon Musk’s legal team. The Tesla CEO is embroiled in an ongoing battle over whether or not he is allowed to back out of his $44 billion Twitter acquisition without facing consequences. Twitter is suing him over it. Musk has been claiming Twitter’s bot problem is a violation of the original deal terms.
Just yesterday, the Delaware judge presiding over the Musk/Twitter debacle determined that the defense could, in fact, incorporate Zatko’s complaint into their case.
Zatko is set to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. He has also been called as a witness in the Delaware trial, which begins October 17 and is scheduled to run for five days.
Although the former security executive signed an NDA, whistleblower complaints and legal testimony are two avenues likely to be exempted from the agreement’s terms.
From the WSJ:
As part of the settlement, Mr. Zatko agreed to a nondisclosure agreement that prohibits him from speaking publicly about his time at Twitter or disparaging the company, the people said. Congressional hearings and governmental whistleblower complaints are two of the few venues in which he is permitted to speak openly, they said, and such exemptions are typical in compensation settlements.