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Why Twitter has moved its non-US accounts away from the US and the NSA

Heather Parry

By Heather Parry

27 April 2015

Last week, Twitter updated its privacy policy.

The new policy states that the microblogging site now has a two-lane service, meaning that US and non-US accounts are treated differently. If you live in the US, your account is controlled by Twitter Inc. which is based in San Francisco. If you live outside the US, your account is now controlled by Twitter International Company, which is based in Dublin, Ireland.

So what’s the big deal?

Well, because Twitter Inc is headquartered in the US, it is forced to comply by US law, including any court requests for the site to hand over user data to the NSA. Twitter International Company, however, does not have this problem; it is not required to submit to US law, and so data stored in Dublin is now safe from the NSA.

Other companies already have employed the tactic of moving its non-US content away from the US, most notably Facebook. Ireland has one of the most relaxed privacy laws in Europe, drawing many organizations over there to take advantage of this.

However, this may not be a cut-and-dry privacy victory as it first seems.

Though a move away from NSA prying is definitely a good thing, Ireland’s privacy laws also make it much easier for companies to share data about their users with third parties, allowing for targeted advertising (and the vast amounts of money to be made from it).

Is this a case of better the devil you know? Only time will tell.

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