Twitter Blocks U.S. Intelligence Agencies from Dataminr

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NGOs can use Dataminr but U.S. intelligence agencies are banned.

Twitter has quietly banned U.S. intelligence agencies from using Dataminr, a real-time analytics service that allows content on the massive social network to be quickly sifted through and analyzed for signs of political unrest, terror activity and other breaking news. It then uses geographical and other market data to determine credibility and sends real-time alerts. The block was confirmed by a senior U.S. intelligence official but no public announcement was made.

“If Twitter continues to sell this [data] to the private sector, but denies the government, that’s hypocritical,” John C. Inglis, a former deputy director of the National Security Agency, told the Wall Street Journal. “I think it’s a bad sign of a lack of appropriate cooperation between a private-sector organization and the government.”

Twitter told the International Business Times that they have always had a strict policy prohibiting third parties from selling data to intelligence agencies for surveillance purposes. Twitter said it is sticking by its policy in this case and doesn’t want to be connected to U.S intelligence agencies.

“Dataminr uses public Tweets to sell breaking news alerts to media organizations such as CNN and government agencies such as the World Health Organization, for non-surveillance purposes,” Twitter said in a statement, “We have never authorized Dataminr or any third party to sell data to a government or intelligence agency for surveillance purposes. This is a longstanding policy, not a new development.”

Dataminr said the move will not affect its operations for its non-government clients, but pointed out that it was their service that first broke the news of the Paris and Brussels terror attacks to intelligence agencies, making it a powerful tool. Intelligence agencies agree and hope the company and Twitter will reconsider.

Sue Walsh

About Sue Walsh

Sue Walsh is a freelance writer and social media manager living in New York City. Her specialties include tech, security and e-commerce. You can follow her on Twitter at @girlfridaygeek.

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