Twitter has permanently suspended an account which leaked 269 GB of FBI and police documents, covering more than 20 years’ worth of potentially sensitive law enforcement information.
The account belonged to the Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets) collective – its name a pun on the distributed denial of service cyber attack – which is an alternative to WikiLeaks popular with hacktivists.
A spokesperson for Twitter confirmed to Sky News that the account was permanently suspended for violating the company’s policy prohibiting the distribution of hacked materials.
The social media company added that the material contained unredacted information which could put individuals at risk of real-world harm.
Sky News found almost three thousand items in the database which contain the phrase “TOP SECRET”, although these all seem to indicate the clearance level of email contacts in the documents and not the contents of the documents themselves.
Before it was suspended the DDoSecrets account told Sky News that it understands the data it has published “wasn’t stored on a system cleared for classified information”.
The data appears to have been collected following a breach of a web services company in Houston, Texas, which counts a number of law enforcement agencies as customers.
It was released on 19 June, also known as Juneteenth, which is not a federally recognised holiday in the US, but is celebrated to commemorate the Union army proclaiming all slaves in Texas to be free in 1865, during the American Civil War.
The day before the release the project’s Twitter account tweeted in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Its release follows weeks of renewed focus on racism in America, especially on law enforcement’s conduct towards black people after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May.
There are more than 6,500 documents mentioning George Floyd in the database, including a threat assessment regarding a memorial event.
Few, if any, of these appear to directly relate to the death of Mr Floyd, and most cover the protests which took place across the US in response to it.
There have been multiple allegations of police brutality during the course of these protests, including one incident where an elderly man suffered a brain injury after he was shoved to the ground by police at a protest in New York.
There is a large volume of material in the release, much of which names individual officers involved in monitoring the Black Lives Matter protests.
One unclassified FBI report warns that civil unrest in response to Mr Floyd’s death could threaten law enforcement supporters’ safety.
It cites “an identified Twitter account dedicated to anarchist ideology” which posted: “See a blue lives matter flag, destroy a blue lives matter flag challenge.”
Another tweet it mentioned said: “Truck with ‘blue lives matter’ crap on it just got all the windows smashed out. Give em hell tonight. #AvengeGeorgeFloyd.”
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