Twitter blocks Dataminr from sending alerts on terror attacks and political unrest to US agencies

Twitter blocks Dataminr from sending alerts on terror attacks and political unrest to US agencies

Amid the growing concerns over terrorism, security and users’ privacy, micro-blogging website Twitter has barred US intelligence agencies from accessing a service that sends alerts about unfolding terror attacks and political unrest, the Wall Street Journal reported. The service is provided by New York-based Dataminr, a company that analyses tweets and other information streams to create alerts for traders, news reporters and government agencies. Twitter has nearly five percent stake in Dataminr.

According to Dataminr website, it transforms the Twitter stream and other public datasets into actionable signals, discovering must-know information in real-time for clients in finance, the public sector, news, corporate security and crisis management. “Using powerful, proprietary algorithms, Dataminr instantly analyses all public tweets and other publicly available data to deliver the earliest signals for breaking news, real-world events, off the radar context and perspective, and emerging trends,” the information available on the website said.

In partnership with Twitter, Dataminr developed and launched “Dataminr for News” which alerts journalists to breaking news in advance of traditional sources and is now used by hundreds of news organisations globally. Dataminr’s strategic partnership with Twitter includes real-time access to all public tweets. According to the WSJ report, the analysis of Twitter and other social media platforms like Facebook is becoming important to intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

The move, however, does not affect Dataminr’s service to financial industry, news media or other clients. The news brought back memories of a recent feud between Apple and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over privacy versus security. After successfully hacking into the encrypted Apple iPhone of one of the terrorists in San Bernardino, California shooting, the US Department of Justice withdrew legal action against the tech giant.

According to the media reports, a third party helped the FBI to crack the security function without erasing contents of the iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook. Farook, along with his wife Tashfeen Malik, planned and executed the December 2, 2015 shooting that left 14 people dead. Apple CEO Tim Cook has reiterated the company’s commitment to protect its users’ data and privacy.

“We have a responsibility to help you protect your data and your privacy. We will not shrink from this responsibility. We built the iPhone for you, our customers, and for many of us it is a deeply personal device,” he told the gathering during a special launch event at its Cupertino, California-based headquarters. The FBI reportedly paid more than $1 million to access San Bernardino attacker’s iPhone. It is for the first time the agency has offered a possible price tag in the high-profile case.