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May 9, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 11:47am

Twitter bans US intelligence agencies from using data analytics service

News: Dataminr sells data analytics information to US intelligence agencies and helps them in detecting terrorist activities.

By CBR Staff Writer

Twitter has reportedly stopped US intelligence agencies from data mining for information which helps them track terrorist activities.

The social media giant has blocked Dataminr, a company that specialises in data analytics and identifies patterns across every tweet published and which in-turn provides the information to US intelligence agencies.

According to the WSJ, Dataminr executives said that Twitter does not want Dataminr to analyse its data any more.

Dataminr is a minor-shareholder in Twitter and it is the only organisation which has access to Twitter’s tightly controlled APIs and the data they give out, which can be used for analysing tweets in real time.

Dataminr can analyse hundreds of millions of tweets on a daily basis and it can match the data with market information and geographic data to conclude which information is credible.

Dataminr claims that its real time analysis helped in alerting about the Brussels attacks 10 minutes before mainstream media and has also provided timely updates on ISIS attacks in Libya and during Brazilian political crisis.

According to Twitter, Dataminr has been providing services to intelligence agencies for about two years now. Sources close to Twittersaid that it was concerned that it was appearing too close to US intelligence agencies.

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It said that data is largely public and US government may review public accounts on its own, like any user could.

WSJ reported that Twitter has a policy not to allow third party companies like Dataminr to sell analytical information to government bodies for surveillance.

Twitter, has barred Dataminr from selling information only to government departments, but still sells the information to companies in the private sector companies belonging to industries such as financial, media and other industries.

Twitter’s latest announcement is one more standoff between technology companies and law enforcement agencies on privacy and data access.

NSA ex-deputy director John C Inglis criticised Twitter’s move and said: "If Twitter continues to sell this [data] to the private sector, but denies the government, that’s hypocritical."

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