Court Forces Twitter to Keep Its Firehose Open, for Now

Twitter is under attack for stopping to provide access to its firehose

Twitter's increasing "closeness" is starting to backfire, in more ways than one. While plenty of developers and companies are not happy with Twitter setting aside for itself an increasingly bigger piece of its, admittedly, own pie, one company is now going to court over access to the Twitter firehose.

PeopleBrowsr, the company behind the likes of Kred, has had full firehose access for a few years. What this means is that it had access to all the public tweets pushed to Twitter at any given point.

Several other companies enjoy this wide access, for a price of course, but Twitter has been restricting access for some of them.

Only a few still have full access, the rest are directed to Twitter firehose resellers.

That's what happened to PeopleBrowsr, as its contract expired, Twitter indicated that it would not be renewing it and that the company should start relying on DataSift or Gnip for the data.

Those companies offer access to the firehose, but in a more limited way than what PeopleBrowsr used to get. This is the object of the legal dispute.

"We relied on Twitter’s promise of openness when we invested millions of dollars and thousands of hours of development time," Jodee Rich, Peoplebrowsr CEO, said.

"Long term supply is essential as this industry matures. We made this application to ensure full unrestricted access to the Firehose for our Enterprise and Government clients," he added.

PeopleBrowsr accuses Twitter of malicious and misleading practices by not remaining "open" as PeopleBrowsr presumed it would indefinitely.

For Twitter the matter is simple, the contract was over, it has no obligation to continue to provide access, case closed.

For now, the judge has issued a preliminary restraining order, meaning that PeopleBrowsr will continue to get access for the time being. The court will decide whether to issue an injunction for the duration of the trial in early January.

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