Dataminr Helps Police Track Protesters

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Dataminr Helps Police Track Protesters
Short Title Police Tracked George Floyd Protests With Help From Twitter-Affiliated Startup Dataminr
Location United States
Date July 2020

Solove Harm Surveillance, Secondary Use
Information Location, Knowledge and Belief, Behavioral, Preference
Threat Actors Twitter, Dataminr, CIA, Law Enforcement

Affected Protesters
High Risk Groups Freedom Fighters, Political Activists, Ethnic Minority
Tangible Harms

Controversial artificial intelligence startup Dataminr helped law enforcement in the United States digitally monitor the protests.


In Spring and Summer 2020 thousands of people protested, demanding an end to police brutality and the defunding of police departments in the context of the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

An AI startup Dataminr, recently valued at over $1.8 billion, was found to be helping police track peaceful protesters. Twitter, up until recently a longtime investor in Dataminr alongside the CIA, provides the company with full access to a content stream known as the “firehose” — a rare privilege among tech firms, and one that lets Dataminr scan every public tweet as soon as its author hits send. Surveillance Dataminr has access to information such as tweet locations.

Both companies denied that the protest monitoring meets the definition of surveillance.

Generally Dataminr helps newsrooms, corporations, and governments around the world track crises by analyzing information from the internet (mostly social media). Using that information and algorithms to help law enforcement surveil on peaceful protesters is an example of Secondary Use.

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