Twitter Inc. has barred U.S. intelligence agencies from accessing a service that that provides real-time alerts for breaking news such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and actionable business events, reports The Wall Street Journal. Twitter took the action because it did not like the “optics” of appearing too close to U.S. spy agencies, reported WSJ, citing an unidentified intelligence official.
The service is run by a company called Dataminr, and Twitter owns about a 5 percent stake in the firm, the only company it authorizes to mine the entire stream of postings on the platform.
This is simply the latest faceoff between tech companies and the federal government in a quiet push from Silicon Valley to keep the feds out of private data.
The protracted iPhone privacy case comes to mind as far as clashes in the United States, while the very recent WhatsApp spat with a Brazilian judge over privacy issues makes such clashes more commonplace.
Dataminr sifts through hundreds of millions of daily tweets looking for patterns, cross-referencing postings against data like location and market information to identify actionable insight. It sends out alerts of unfolding events like terror attacks or political unrest.
Quick access to breaking news of terrorism such as the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino has drawn interest from federal investigators, who seek clues to the suspects behind the incidents.
US agencies were reportedly able to use Dataminr for two years before the ban was enacted.