Social network X, formerly known as Twitter, has been accused of passing user data to intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies in the US, The Intercept reports.

A report by The Intercept states that the data Twitterr was collecting was sold to the surveillance firm Dataminr, which uses artificial intelligence technology to constantly monitor public activity on social media and other parts of the web.

That way, its clients, often law enforcement, can get personalized real-time alerts about what’s happening online, helping them respond to natural disasters or spy on protests, The Intercept notes.

Emails between Dataminr and the U.S. Secret Service obtained with a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that the surveillance firm is paying for special access to Twitter data. Sent in July 2023, they also confirm that this practice continued under Musk.

In another email, the Secret Service confirmed the nature of the relationship, “the whole point of this contract is to use the information for law enforcement purposes,” the message said.

In addition to contradicting the values of the lawsuit, the practice also contradicts Twitter’s policies, notes The Intercept, which prohibit “the surveillance or collection of intelligence information.”

But there’s a subtle technicality, and that is that the data doesn’t go directly to the government, but is leased to an intermediary data analysis firm, which in turn works for government agencies.

It’s a practice that started even before Elon Musk acquired Twitter.

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