A recent Wall Street Journal article revealed that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has ended a contract to provide public user data analytics to the CIA despite choosing to renew a contract that provides data to an entity controlled by Vladimir Putin.
Writing for The Wall Street Journal, L. Gordon Crovitz claimed that “Silicon Valley’s hostility to U.S. intelligence and law enforcement reached a new low” when Jack Dorsey rejected a contract renewal with the CIA which would have provided them with data based on the platform’s users.
The data mining company, Dataminr, was founded in 2009 to find value in social media data for clients in the finance and government sectors. Dataminr’s site claims that they provide user data to government agencies “providing information first when there are lives at stake.”
For the past two years, Dataminr has provided data on Twitter users to the CIA via a pilot program. However, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently refused to renew the pilot program contract despite allowing Dataminr to continue providing Vladimir Putin with the user data of American citizens.
Dataminr currently provides user data from Twitter to the television network, Russia Today (RT), which was created and funded by the Russian Government. Putin claims that he creates the network to “try to break the Anglo-Saxon monopoly on the global information streams.”
Despite Twitter’s argument that the decision to reject the CIA deal was to protect their user’s from surveillance, most remain skeptical because Dataminr exclusively uses public social media data to form their data.
A former top U.S. counter-terrorism expert told The Wall Street Journal that Dataminr informed intelligence agencies about the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Paris and Brussels.
“These real-time tactical warnings are especially useful in the case of multiple attacks when even if we only get a little bit of warning, it can make a big difference,” he said. “Dataminr alerted us ahead of the news in these cases by 15 minutes to half an hour, which meant we could make more effective responses to the attacks.”
Twitter has previously attracted criticism for compromising national security due to the slowness of its response to the rapid rise of Islamic State members and supporters on its platform in 2014 and 2015. The Brookings Institute estimated that at one time, there were close to 50,000 pro-ISIS accounts on the platform.