Twitter Halts DHS Surveillance Program…Sort of.

by | Dec 20, 2016

Twitter Halts DHS Surveillance Program…Sort of.

by | Dec 20, 2016

Twitter Cuts Off Firehose Access To DHS Fusion Centers

Earlier this year, Twitter pulled the plug on some of Dataminr’s customers, specifically the intelligence agencies it was selling its firehose access to. Twitter made it clear Dataminr’s access to every public tweet wasn’t to be repurposed into a government surveillance tool.

That being said, everything swept up by Dataminr was public. There was no access to direct messages or tweets sent from private accounts. And Twitter seemingly is doing nothing to prevent Dataminr from selling this same access to the FBI, an agency that’s far more an intelligence agency than a law enforcement agency these days — one that thinks it should be allowed to do everything the CIA does, if not more.

Presumably, the FBI pinned its law enforcement badge to its chest when hooking up with Dataminr because Twitter has had nothing to say about the partnership. And it’s not as though Twitter is fine with just anyone selling analytic tools to law enforcement. It, along with Facebook, yanked Geofeedia’s access to APIs simply because it didn’t like how Geofeedia pitched its tweet-grabbing front end. In sales materials, the company strongly hinted that law enforcement agencies could use its software to stay “one step ahead” of citizens engaged in First Amendment-protected activity.

Twitter’s standards are malleable, to say the least. But it does seems to be serious about refusing to let its service become just another government surveillance tool. The ACLU is reporting that Twitter has just cut off Dataminr access to the dozens of DHS “fusion centers” scattered across the country.

Read the rest at Techdirt.

Tim Cushing

Tim Cushing

Tim Cushing's work can be found at Techdirt.

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