The United Kingdom has officially protested Twitter's recent decision to restrict access to user data to its agencies, a spokesman for the country's Prime Minister Theresa May revealed in a statement provided to media outlets on Wednesday. The San Francisco-based social media giant blocked the British government from accessing its user data with the goal of identifying and assessing potential terrorist threats, sources with knowledge of the matter told The Telegraph on Tuesday, though Twitter hasn't officially confirmed that information as of this writing.
UK officials have reportedly criticized the company's decision, which ultimately led to the government protesting Twitter's move in an official capacity. The user data that Twitter is now refusing to share with the British government was reportedly widely used by the country's security and counter-intelligence agency MI5, as well as UK police, industry sources claim. Twitter allegedly opted to prevent British authorities from accessing data about its users in an effort to completely stop being a tool for government surveillance, sources say. The current state of affairs might still change in the near future, as May's spokesman revealed that the UK government is already negotiating with Twitter over being allowed access to what it deems is crucial data that helps keep the country safe. It's currently unclear how those negotiations are proceeding and whether Twitter blocked UK authorities from accessing data about its users in an effort to pressure the British government over some particular issue.
Industry sources claim that counter-intelligence officials and other authority members weren't personally accessing Twitter's user data but were instead using services from a third-party company that monitored the data streams provided by Twitter on their behalf. This turn of events marks the second time the issue of privacy and surveillance came into the public spotlight in the UK in less than a month, as the country's Home Secretary Amber Rudd recently said that the government's inability to access the contents of messages sent between WhatsApp users is "completely unacceptable." It remains to be seen whether Twitter will attempt to clarify the matter publicly in the future, but an update on the situation should follow shortly.