Twitter has reportedly stopped the flow of its data to US intelligence agencies, which is currently delivered via a private data mining service.
According to “a senior US intelligence official” that spoke to the Wall Street Journal, Twitter has banned US agencies from using Dataminr, a company that gathers and packages information from all of Twitter’s data for a fee. Currently, US intelligence agencies used it to spot troubling events—such as terrorist attacks, like those in Paris late last year.
Twitter owns a 5 per cent stake in Dataminr, and the Journal claims that it decided that US intelligence agencies should no longer be a customer. According to the newspaper’s source, Twitter was worried about “seeming too close to American intelligence services.” Much of Twitter’s data is, of course, public, so there wouldn’t be much stopping the agencies from developing their own tools to perform similar tasks. Though as the Journal points out, Dataminr is the only company that’s allowed real-time access to all of Twitter’s data.
The newspaper claims that US government agencies are “unhappy” about the decision, especially given that Dataminr will continues to provide services based on the data to private companies. Certainly, it’s a decision that will do little to ease current tensions between the US government and the technology sector, as they quarrel over the balance between privacy and law enforcement.