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In wake of Apple's FBI standoff, Twitter cuts off U.S. Intelligence

Posted May 16

U.S. intelligence officials are scolding social media network Twitter for cutting them off from user analytics used to gain knowledge about global terrorist activities.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Twitter forbade its analytics company, Dataminr (of which Twitter owns 5 percent), from giving user data to government agencies like the National Security Agency, citing a longstanding company policy against such use. Ex-NSA head John Inglis called the loss of Twitter's information a major blow to U.S. intelligence and the war on terror, and it's easy to understand why.

"In March, the company says it first notified clients about the Brussels attacks 10 minutes ahead of news media, and has provided alerts on ISIS attacks on the Libya oil sector, the Brazilian political crisis, and other sudden upheaval in the world," The Wall Street Journal reported.

The move, which has not yet been publicly announced, comes months after Apple refused to aid the FBI in unlocking the iPhone of a terrorist involved in a mass shooting in San Bernardino last December. It's likely Apple has set something of a precedent for the tech industry, including tech giant Google, to follow regarding its loyalty to privacy vs. national security, as New York Magazine theorized.

"Following embarrassing revelations of the extent to which the NSA was tapping into supposedly private data, tech companies are jockeying to demonstrate their commitment to privacy and security," Max Read reported.

"Twitter, welcome to the club," New York Magazine's Claire Landsbaum wrote of the decision.

While intelligence officials warned that Twitter's decision could have "grave consequences" in the future, other industry experts said the decision was a smart one for any tech company hoping to avoid appearing like a slave to the federal government.

"Post-Snowden, American-based information technology companies don’t want to be seen as an arm of the U.S. intelligence community,” data privacy expert Peter Swire told the Journal.

Email: chjohnson@deseretnews.com

Twitter: ChandraMJohnson

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