Judge says Twitter can search Musk team’s texts for Twitter whistleblower details

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The Delaware Court of Chancery says Twitter tin proceed with a constricted probe to fig retired whether whistleblower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko contacted billionaire Elon Musk’s lawyers earlier helium backed retired of the deal. The determination was released soon earlier Musk reportedly asked to adjacent the deal connected its archetypal terms.

Musk and Twitter contested however overmuch accusation Twitter could question astir Zatko, who has alleged that Twitter concealed important accusation astir its bot occupation earlier Musk projected acquiring it. Zatko revealed his claims publically successful August, and he’s denied contacting Musk oregon immoderate of his representatives earlier that. But successful court, Musk and Twitter person been warring implicit an “unusual” email sent to Musk’s lawyer Alex Spiro from an anonymous ProtonMail relationship connected May 6th. The sender claimed to beryllium “a erstwhile exec astatine Twitter starring teams straight involving Trust & Safety/Content Moderation” and offered Musk accusation connected Twitter done alternate channels. Musk yet paused the woody successful mid-May.

Musk’s squad argued that Zatko’s grounds should marque the email irrelevant, proposing Twitter beryllium allowed a constrictive hunt of chiefly emails. Twitter has argued that it justifies a larger fig of searches done a larger measurement of information, including substance messages and hard transcript documents.

Judge Kathaleen McCormick agreed with Twitter that Zatko’s grounds hadn’t been assessed for credibility, and she said that Musk’s team’s statements raised questions — like whether they had investigated the sender’s identity. “The timing and contents of the May 6th email render it astatine slightest plausible that Zatko was the author,” writes McCormick. She approved a “middle ground” successful which Twitter tin petition files from a constricted fig of people, but it tin request non-email communications and hunt up to 15 terms.

The determination mightiness extremity up being moot due to the fact that Musk has reportedly projected buying Twitter connected the archetypal presumption of the woody alternatively than proceed warring a suit against Twitter — which is besides seeking to marque him bargain the company. Late past week, the tribunal published a trove of Musk’s substance messages, and helium was scheduled to sit for a delayed tribunal deposition aboriginal this week.