Twitter Halts Flow of Information to Intelligence Agencies

Illustration for article titled Twitter Halts Flow of Information to Intelligence Agencies

Twitter has reportedly stopped the flow of 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. Until now, US intelligence agencies used it to spot troubling events—such as terrorist attacks, like those in Paris late last year.

Twitter owns a 5 percent 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 government agencies are “unhappy” about the decision, especially given that Dataminr will continue to provide services based on the data to private companies. Certainly, it’s a decision that will do little to ease current tensions between federal government and the technology sector, as the two quarrel over the balance between privacy and law enforcement.


Contributing Editor at Gizmodo. An ex-engineer writing about science and technology.


Given enough data, almost every organization thinks it can start predicting the future. Its mostly harmless when its a business interested in products. But when you’re a government hunting down individuals to incarcerate or immolate... perhaps a little more caution is in order. After all, Hari Seldon hasn’t been born yet.