Twitter Blocks Intelligence Agencies From Tweet-Mining Service for Surveillance
By Susanna Kim
Twitter is blocking intelligence agencies access from using a Tweet-mining service for surveillance.
Quarrels between the government and tech companies are now becoming commonplace, with the two sides at odds over security and customer privacy. Following Apple’s high-profile stand-off with the FBI over the iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters, Microsoft last month filed a lawsuit for the right to tell customers when law enforcement officials request their emails and other data.
Twitter said it has had a “longstanding” policy of preventing a company called Dataminr from selling breaking news alerts to intelligence agencies that want to monitor Tweets.
Dataminr, based in New York, scans data from Twitter for clients in finance, corporate security, crisis management and news. ABC News uses services from Dataminr. Dataminr states on its website that it offers services for customers in the public sector, “providing information first when there are lives at stake.”
“Dataminr uses public Tweets to sell breaking news alerts to media organizations such as ABC News and government agencies such as the World Health Organization, for non-surveillance purposes,” a spokesman for Twitter said in a statement to ABC News. “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 executives recently told intelligence agencies that Twitter doesn’t want the company to continue providing service to them, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter.
Dataminr states on its website that it recently launched its corporate security and crisis management clients “that warns the largest corporations to emerging threats and crises, ensuring that a corporation’s physical assets and employees are protected.”
Dataminr did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last month, Facebook revealed that governments are asking the social media company for more data than ever before.