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Twitter Government United States

Twitter Blocks Feds From Data Mining Service (usatoday.com) 60

An anonymous reader cites a report on USA Today: Online social media company Twitter has reportedly blocked U.S. intelligence agencies from access to a widely used data mining service it partly owns. Twitter told Dataminr, the business partner that sifts through and provides access to the full output of the San Francisco-based firm's social media postings known as tweets, that it didn't want the service provided to government investigators, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Twitter made the decision because the company did not like the "optics" of appearing too close to U.S. spy agencies, the Journal reported, citing an unidentified intelligence official. The issue could further escalate the public privacy vs. government security tensions between high tech firms and the federal government as investigators seek access to social media and other electronic data in an effort to detect and avert suspected terrorist plots. Newsweek's Kenneth Li said: "This makes no sense. So, dataminr's hedge fund customers are ok, but not the government?"
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Twitter Blocks Feds From Data Mining Service

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  • by KGIII ( 973947 ) <uninvolved@outlook.com> on Monday May 09, 2016 @12:55PM (#52076625) Journal

    Do they really mean what they say or did they "block them" from this service while giving them an all you can drink tap right at the source? What's to stop the Feds from accessing the service under a fictitious name or via a legitimate company?

    I really am turning into a conspiracy theorist. :/

    It's hard to tell these days.

    • by ArylAkamov ( 4036877 ) on Monday May 09, 2016 @01:00PM (#52076685)

      What's to stop the Feds from accessing the service under a fictitious name or via a legitimate company?

      Nothing, it's just a PR stunt. Like the summary said:

      "Twitter made the decision because the company did not like the "optics" of appearing too close to U.S. spy agencies"

      It's all about appearances.

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        Yeah, I don't think they can really stop 'em. In a reply below, I indicated a couple of ways to just grab the damned data even if they don't give me permission. Given that the Feds almost certainly have lots of bandwidth and raw access to the pipes via the providers, I'm thinking they don't really need permission. I've got three disparate DSL connections in Maine and one cable connection here in Florida - I could saturate my lines and pull down nothing but text and probably scrape quite a bit of it without

      • " appearing too close to U.S. spy agencies" Are they applying the same rules for non-US spy agencies?

    • "pay us. we're not doing this for free."

      • Indeed. And just how enforceable are the terms of service for a service like this? IE, if the terms include "using your real business name" - ie, allow folks who are DBA'ing as Foo Corp to use Foo Corp even though ti is really an individual - and "not reselling or allowing access by others" - so Foo Corp can't allow his drinking buddy Bar Corp to use his account "to check on something" - woudl that be enough to prevent the feds from using a corporation, etc? Because the service can certainly say "oh, we w

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Do they really mean what they say or did they "block them" from this service while giving them an all you can drink tap right at the source? What's to stop the Feds from accessing the service under a fictitious name or via a legitimate company?

      I really am turning into a conspiracy theorist. :/

      It's hard to tell these days.

      Anybody worried about "the Feds" snooping on their Twitter account is doing it wrong.

      "I want to publish information publicly, but I only want people who I want to have the information to be able find it. Also, I don't want to answer queries about if person X or person Y should have it, the computer should just know if I want them to have it or not. And, it should also figure out if I don't want that person to have that information in the future, and refuse to give it to them in the present."

      Yeah, neither Th

    • Pretty much my thought... they claim they are "blocking" the Feds, when the Feds can just start up a "private" company and let it access the database for them (as if they don't already have plenty of fake companies they use to provide spies with resumes). Twitter keeps positive deniability about protecting users privacy, despite the fact that they are effectively allowing ANYONE to access the data! The only question is, does twitter know about the 3rd party company the Feds are going through for access or n
      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        > The only question is, does twitter know about the 3rd party company the Feds are going through for access or not?

        Plausible deniability. I guess it's a thing for companies too. I was mentioning below, it's public data - posted on a public server. Give me a handful of VPNs so that I can get enough bandwidth into it and I can scrape the site in real time. On top of that, this is the Feds - they've got access to the pipes and probably have more aggregate data than even Twitter has.

    • They are completely right. The only acceptable use of data analysis is to serve tailored ads to costumers. Way to go, Twitter, Inc.! Keep our data safe from the boogeyman government of evil.
    • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

      > Do they really mean what they say or did they "block them" from

      Right there is where the doublespeak starts.

      The thing is, everybody knows the intelligence agencies use front companies. So, if the data sharing is available to everyone else, they can easily get it by just....not disclosing who they really are. They just, get access through a front. Problem solved.

      This is 100% CYA and misdirection. The only barrier they want to create is one around the truth of what they share and wan to keep sharing with

    • Lol, they think they've blocked the Feds, but that's like blocking an unpopular opinion or winning the War On Drugs (or Terror, or Knitting, or whatever).

      This sounds like a little kid hiding under a blanket and going, "You can't see me!"

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        I wonder if they even believe it themselves? Seriously, I'm turning into quite a conspiracy kook or something. I mean, yeah, I fully expected what Snowden released but what more is there?

        As for this? It's well known that the Three Letter Agencies use front companies. So, a company called New Standard Aggregates INC is now just buying the data. They get the PR boost and they people actually believe that the feds are having to revert to scraping the site with scripts. Or, maybe, they have no idea that the Fed

        • by s.petry ( 762400 )

          I wonder if they even believe it themselves? Seriously, I'm turning into quite a conspiracy kook or something. I mean, yeah, I fully expected what Snowden released but what more is there?

          Evaluation from the perspective of "Government is potentially evil" is not "kook", and does not make you one. There has been a huge amount of propaganda which makes one think that, but it's a psychological war. Go back to the 1970s and read Gary Allen and Milton Friedman, and read what people wrote about them. Or perhaps consider what was not said about them in US media, while other talking heads became main stream.

          Government does not have morality on it's own and can be neither "good" or "evil". The pe

        • The National Student Association? The Culinary Institute of America?

          Where does it stop!

    • I've often wondered if someone could set up a black-list of government-owned computers.

      This could be set up and managed much like the SPAM black lists or the AdBlock lists - managed by an interested party, using information submitted by the public. Execute "sudo apt-get install govblock", and your system automatically sends a 404 response to requests from government computers.

      Now, anyone with an inkling of how the net works will realize that this is trivial to get around, but consider it from the point of v

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        They have had block lists for the P2P file systems for ages. i don't know how well they work or anything but they exist. They're supposed to stop you from sharing with people who work for the companies that find people who are violating copyright laws - including some companies that specialize in that.

        I imagine it'd be marginally effective but it's pretty easy for them to get a new IP address and just pretend it's located anywhere in the world.

        Hmm... Do a Google search for:

        "block federal government IP addre

  • ...and hit up the consumers of the data for that information. "Give us all of the information about this Twitter account that you have and tell no one." Meanwhile it'll be 3rd party advertising firms who don't care/have an image to maintain and are incompetent enough to hand the Feds the keys to ALL of the information. Twitter at least could siphon what information it releases.

    It's a PR stunt, it literally does nothing to curtail information flow. If you want to be anonymous, quit using the internet.
  • Twitter made the decision because the company did not like the "optics" of appearing too close to U.S. spy agencies

    So, ISIS using Twitter is [buzzfeed.com] tolerable [theatlantic.com], but US government — no, that's just wrong?

    Ah, well, they started to go after "violent extremism" [twitter.com] too now, finally. The "optics" must've gotten really bad...

    Unfortunately, they don't distinguish between terrorists and, for example, Ukrainians defending their country [112.international].

  • Hmmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Monday May 09, 2016 @01:17PM (#52076831) Homepage Journal

    I take it the cheque bounced?

  • At least the corporations using this data-mining are being honest about what they're using it for. The government? "Hey, we need to look at this. For reasons. And you can't tell anyone."

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The US government actually has rules on how they can use and store the data - corporations can do whatever they want with it. It amazes me how people have no problem giving corporations access to everything in their lives, but get upset when the government gets a peak. While it is BS for the government to have access to private data without a warrant, it is idiotic to think it is OK provide corporations with the data to a public service but not the US government. Meanwhile foreign spy agencies have full

  • hey big gov... pay us like all the other clients for our data.

I owe the public nothing. -- J.P. Morgan

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