Twitter Blocks Feds' Access to Dataminr

NicoleMotta on Monday May 9, 2016 at 12:15:56 PM

Twitter Blocks Feds' Access to Dataminr

According to new reports, Twitter has blocked U.S. intelligence agencies from accessing Dataminr.

(CCM) — On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Twitter had told Dataminr, which gathers and packages all of Twitter's data for a fee, to stop supplying information to U.S. intelligence agencies. Until now, intelligence agencies have been able to use this service to spot potential threats, such as terrorist attacks, political unrest, or other important events on Twitter. The social media company owns about a 5 percent stake in Dataminr, and it is the only company authorized to both access Twitter's entire real-time stream and sell it to clients, like news media or financial firms. Twitter says that its data is "largely public" and the government can "review public accounts on its own, like any user could."

This move has yet to be publicly announced, but has been confirmed by a senior U.S. intelligence official as well as several others familiar with the matter. The senior intelligence official said that Twitter was worried about the "optics" of seeming too close to American intelligence agencies. In its own statement, Twitter explained that it has a long-standing policy barring third-party services from selling its data to government agencies for surveillance purposes, and that Dataminr falls under this policy. Despite this, U.S. intelligence agencies have reportedly been using Dataminr for the past two years; Twitter did not comment on how these intelligence agencies became Dataminr clients in the first place.

U.S. government agencies are not happy about this decision. John C. Inglis, a former deputy director of the NSA, said that it is hypocritical for the company to allow its data to be sold to the private sector while simultaneously denying the government access. He added, "I think it's a bad sign of a lack of appropriate cooperation between a private-sector organization and the government."

Photo: © iStock.


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