Twitter prohibits U.S. spy agencies access to real-time tweet analysis

Twitter appears to be drawing the line at giving U.S. intelligence agencies access to a service with access to real-time tweets that send out alerts of a credible terrorist attack or other events, the Wall Street Journal reported.

At issue is Dataminr, a private company that detects patterns among Twitter’s feed, among other things. Its clients include financial institutions and media firms.

Twitter has a 5 percent stake in the firm, which the Journal describes as “the only company it authorizes both to access its entire real-time stream of public tweets and sell it to clients.”

For two years, U.S. intelligence agencies have received the reports.

What is Twitter worried about now?

The company isn’t saying. But a senior intelligence officer told the Journal that the issue was “optics.”

Peter Swire, a Georgia Institute of Technology law professor and expert on data privacy, said tech companies are especially sensitive about this appearance after the Edward Snowden leaks that revealed mass spying:

American-based information technology companies don’t want to be seen as an arm of the U.S. intelligence community.

How good is Dataminr’s alerts? It was apparently able to alert its clients early about the Paris attacks in November and was reporting the Brussels attacks 10 minutes before the news media.

It’s unclear how Dataminr was allowed to sell to intelligence clients in the first place. Twitter has a policy barring third parties from selling data for surveillance purposes.

And as Kenneth Li, managing editor of Newsweek, noted, the new lines Twitter appears to be drawing over Dataminr raise new questions:


Photo: Outside Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)


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  • alrui

    Dont believe anything in the news related t FaceBag or Tweeter as they are both in bed and connected at the hip to the Fed as part of its propaganda machine PERIOD!