Elon Musk chalked up another win today as a judge ruled that the Tesla and SpaceX CEO will not have to surrender his corporate messaging accounts to the Twitter board.
A Delaware judge made the ruling on Tuesday.
Musk is in the midst of a high-profile battle. After winning his fight to move forward with a hostile takeover of the world’s largest social media platform, Musk declared he was stepping away from the $44 billion deal because the board could not or would not prove that bots and spam accounts did not represent more than 5% of total users.
The board seeks to pressure Musk to move forward with the purchase of Twitter by demanding a review of his personal Tesla and SpaceX accounts on which he discussed merger options with key advisers.
Delaware Chancery Court Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick denied the Twitter attorneys’ request on the grounds that such an arrangement would violate attorney-client privilege.
Judge McCormick ruled: “Musk had ‘unrestricted’ personal use of his Tesla email account, that ‘no one’ at Tesla can access those emails without Musk’s consent or ‘to the extent legally necessary,’ and that ‘nobody’ at SpaceX can access his email account without Musk’s express consent.”
McCormick added: “These additional facts make Musk’s expectation of privacy objectively reasonable. Twitter’s motion is denied.”
Attorneys representing the Twitter board argued that email policies at SpaceX and Tesla make clear that “employees have no privacy interest in their work emails” and note that the firms “reserve the right to monitor those emails.”
McCormick addressed that issue, writing: “A cynic might doubt that Musk-specific policies exist at SpaceX and Tesla … Still, to this jurist, the evidence rings true. The court has little doubt that neither SpaceX nor Tesla view him as on par with other employees, that he has the power to direct operational decisions, and that nobody at either company would access his information without first obtaining his approval.”
A trial to determine the outcome of the proposed sale of Twitter is scheduled for October 17.
Today’s good news for Musk follows last’s week’s ruling to allow the testimony of Twitter’s former chief security officer, Peiter Zatko, as evidence in the October 17 proceedings.
Zatko’s recent whistleblower report cast an extremely negative light on Twitter’s business practices.
On Tuesday, Zatko told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that Twitter has “a number of cybersecurity problems, as well as exposure to foreign intelligence agencies.”
His claim that “every engineer at the firm could potentially gain access to user data through their access to internal production systems” provides another reason for Musk to justifiably step away from the Twitter purchase proposal.
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