Sources: Spy Agencies Lose Access to Analyzed Tweets

Twitter is blocking Dataminr service to government, says a WSJ report
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2016 10:50 AM CDT
Sources: Spy Agencies Lose Access to Analyzed Tweets
Twitter has cut ties with US intelligence agencies, sources say.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

Twitter has barred US intelligence agencies from accessing a service that parses tweets to alert clients to events like terror attacks over fears of appearing too chummy with federal agencies, sources tells the Wall Street Journal. For two years, the government has had access to the service, provided by private company Dataminr, which says it told its clients about the Brussels attacks 10 minutes before the news media did. Sources, including a senior intelligence official, say intelligence agencies gained access to a pilot program after investing in Dataminr, but Twitter—which has a 5% stake in the company—ended the relationship when the program expired. Twitter, however, says it "never authorized Dataminr or any third party to sell data to a government or intelligence agency for surveillance purposes," per the Verge.

"Post-Snowden, American-based information technology companies don't want to be seen as an arm of the US intelligence community," says a data privacy expert. Twitter says "the US government may review public accounts on its own"; Twitter gives Dataminr unprecedented access to its real-time feed, which Dataminr manipulates using algorithms and geolocation technology to surface patterns. A security expert says the move "could have grave consequences," specifically in terms of the government's ability to minor ISIS' social media activity. Dataminr will keep working with the financial industry and news media, and providing a breaking news-alert service to Homeland Security, per the Journal. (More Twitter stories.)

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