By David Jones
May 10, 2016 5:00 AM PT

 

Twitter has blocked U.S. intelligence agencies from accessing information from Dataminr, a firm that tracks tweets in real time to provide actionable information for financial, media, security and other types of institutional clients, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

The block suggests Twitter is unwilling to cooperate with government agencies on intelligence gathering, the paper said, citing an intelligence source.

Twitter owns a 5 percent stake in Dataminr, and the companies jointly developed the machine learning engines that Dataminr uses to analyze hundreds of millions of tweets. Dataminr monetizes a fraction of that data flow through the sale of information to various clients -- a hot trending story, for example, or a spike in information about a particular subject.

Twitter did not respond directly to the question of whether it blocked access to intelligence agencies, but acknowledged that it does not provide any direct sales cooperation with intelligence agencies.

"Dataminr uses public tweets to sell breaking news alerts to media organizations such as Dow Jones and government agencies such as the World Health Association for nonsurveillance purposes," Twitter said in a statement provided by spokesperson Nu Wexler. "We have never authorized Dataminr or any third party to sell data to a government or intelligence agency for surveillance purposes. This is a longstanding policy, not a new development."

The firm raised US$130 million in 2015, and two of its key investors are Venrock and Institutional Venture Partners.

Twitter Is No Tool

 

May 10, 2016

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