Twitter announced on Monday that it will deny all access to its data mining service to all United States and world intelligence agencies. Twitter is part owner of a company called Dataminr and it has ordered that company to refuse all requests from intelligence services who seek to randomly sift through tweets.
Dataminr has complete and unfettered access to all tweets sent by Twitter users and will not make those tweets and gathered data available. Twitter owns a 5% stake in the company that sifts through all posts to the social network for a variety of clients and provides them with possible terror alerts as well as examining marketing data and geographic concerns for clients. The company has real time access to the entire Twitter network and supplies analysis and raw data to select clients.
Twitter has had a long standing policy that they, and any company affiliated with them, will not sell information to government agencies who want to mine the data for surveillance purposes. The Central Intelligence Agency, it seems, actually has a venture capital firm that invests for it. No one ever asks how they can do this or whose money is being invested. It recently invested in some tech companies including Dataminr which gives the CIA access to it. However, Twitter informed Dataminr that it was not to oblige any of the intelligence and spy agencies.
In a public announcement, Twitter stated that, “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. We have never authorized Dataminr, or any third party, to sell data to a government or an intelligence agency…”
Dataminr will continue to work with its clients and it currently has a contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. John Inglis, a former deputy director with the National Security Agency, said that, “If Twitter continues to sell this data to the private sector, but denies the government, that’s hypocritical.”
It looks as if the escalation in the war between intelligence agencies and tech and social media companies will continue. The government will continue to plead a case for “national security” though it never defines the term and never considers who may determine what that even is.
PHOTO CREDIT: Helloquence (Unsplash.com)