Corporate Profile Timelines

  • Amazon shareholders rejected two non-binding proposals governing its facial recognition software, Rekognition: one would have limited sales of Rekognition to governments, unless a board determined that such sales would not violate peoples’ rights, and the other was to study the extent to which
  • CEOs of the big tech companies have all recently discovered the value of privacy. On Tuesday, 30 April 2019, Mark Zuckerberg, announced his future plans to make Facebook a "privacy-focused social platform". This was followed by Google's Sundar Pichai demand that “privacy must be equally available to
  • On April 16th 2019, Italy’s antitrust authority said that it had launched a probe into five Amazon companies for possible abuse of dominant market position in e-commerce and logistical services. The companies being looked into include Amazon Services Europe, Amazon Europe Core, Amazon EU, Amazon
  • An investigation by Bloomberg, disclosed that thousands of Amazon employees around the world are listening in on Amazon Echo users.
  • The European Commission, EU’s antitrust watchdog, is nearing a decision on its investigation into Amazon. According to a report in Seeking Alpha, EU Competition Chief Margrethe Vestager said the Commission gathered “a lot of data” in its investigation into Amazon. The report noted the EU sent out 1
  • In December 2018, we revealed how some of the most widely used apps in the Google Play Store automatically send personal data to Facebook the moment they are launched. That happens even if you don't have a Facebook account or are logged out of the Facebook platform (watch our talk at the Chaos
  • Similar to the European Commission’s investigation and the stand-alone German and Italian investigations into Amazon’s anti-competitive behaviour, Austria is now investigating whether Amazon is exploiting its market dominance in relation to other retailers that use its website as a marketplace. The
  • In 2016, Jamie Siminoff, the CEO of the miniature security camera company Ring, emailed his employees information them that the company would adopt a new mission to fight crime by using consumer electronics. The company, which Amazon acquired in 2018, sells its cameras with a social app, "Neighbors"
  • In January 2019 Apple briefly disabled the group functionality in its FaceTime video calling application after bug was discovered that allowed users to listen on the people they were calling when they did not pick up the call and also allowed some callers to see video of the person they were calling
  • In January 2019, the British transparency NGO WhoTargetsMe, Mozilla, and the US investigative journalism site Pro Publica reported that recent changes in the social network's code were restricting their ability to monitor political ads on Facebook. The company said the changes were part of a
  • The miniature security camera maker Ring, which was acquired by Amazon in 2017 for a reported $1 billion, has a history of inadequate oversight of the data collected by those cameras on behalf of its customers. In 2016, it reportedly granted virtually unlimited access to its Ukraine-based research
  • Millions of people own smart home devices like the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot—equipped with the Alex cloud-based artificial intelligence service—which have concerning implications for privacy rights. While, Amazon’s own policies promise that only the user and Amazon will listen to what those devices
  • In December 2018 Facebook revealed that over a 12-day period in September a software bug may have wrongly allowed about 1,500 third-party apps to access 6.8 million users' photos, including some that people began uploading to the social network but didn't go on to finish posting. EPIC executive
  • On 14 May 2018, the husband of the victim, a pharmacist living in Linthorpe in Middlesbrough, subdued his wife with insulin injection before straggling her. He then ransacked the house to make it appear as a burglary. The data recorded by the health app on the murder’s phone, showed him racing
  • Following Ms. Vestager’s investigation into Amazon and its own sector enquiry into online price comparison services in October 2017, in June 2018 the German Federal Cartel Office (“Bundeskartellamt”) claimed that it “received a lot of complaints” and is said to be “looking at the role and market
  • In November 2018 the UK Information Commissioner's Office fined Uber's European operation £385,000 for inadequate security that permitted a November 2016 data breach affecting nearly 3 million British users and 82,000 drivers. In the 2016 breach, attackers obtained credentials that allowed them to
  • In yet another murder case, a New Hampshire judge ordered Amazon to turn over two days of Amazon Echo recordings in a double murder case in November 2018. Prosecutors believe that recordings from an Amazon Echo in the Farmington home where two women were murdered in January 2017 may yield further
  • In 2017, Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs began a collaboration with Waterfront Toronto intended to turn a 12-acre lakeside area into a "smart city" equipped with sensors and responsive infrastructure. Frustration that Torontonians' data privacy concerns were not being addressed led Saadia Muzaffar, founder
  • More than 450 Amazon employees delivered a letter to Jeff Bezos and other Amazon executives, demanding that the company immediately stop selling facial recognition software to law enforcement, sever connections to companies like Palantir that help immigration authorities track and deport immigrants
  • From 2014 to early 2017, Amazon used an artificial intelligence (AI) hiring tool to review prospective employees’ resumes and select qualified candidates, based on Amazon’s previous hiring decisions from a ten-year period; however, the tool was much more effective at simply selecting male candidates
  • In October 2018 Amazon patented a new version of its Alexa virtual assistant that would analyse speech to identify signs of illness or emotion and offer to sell remedies. The patent also envisions using the technology to target ads. Although the company may never exploit the patent, the NHS had
  • Google announced on October 8 having discovered a vulnerability in the Google+ API which has been open since 2015. This vulnerability allowed third-party developers to access data for more than 500,000 users, including their usernames, email addresses, occupation, date of birth, profile photos, and
  • The 90-year old suspect when to his stepdaughter's house at San Jose, California for a brief visit. Five days later, his stepdaugter's body, Karen was discovered by a co-worker in her house with fatal lacerations on her head and neck. The police used the data recorded by the victim's Fitbit fitness
  • The UK's Information Commissioner's Office announces it intends to fine Facebook the maximum amount possible for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
  • 30 million users had their accounts breached, with a total of 90 million accounts reset after Facebook's "view as" feature leaked unique user account access tokens, allowing attackers to not only trivially impersonate any other user on the platform, but also to potentially automate the attack on a
  • In 2018, experiments showed that despite the company's denials, ads could be targeted at specific Facebook users via information that the users had never given Facebook, such as phone numbers. The reason: Facebook allows advertisers to upload their own lists of phone numbers of email addresses, and
  • In 2018, WhatsApp founder Brian Acton responded to the Cambridge Analytica scandal by tweeting "It is time. #deletefacebook." He also left the company, walking away from $850 million in unvested stock rather than accede to Facebook's plans to add advertising and commercial messaging, a purpose at
  • Reports that Amazon is planning on launching a free ad-supported music service caused Spotify’s (the Swedish audio streaming platform) shares to fall 4% on Monday, April 15th. And, on April 18th, Amazon published a blog post where it announced that launch of Amazon’s free music-streaming service in
  • In September 2018, EU’s antitrust watchdog, the European Commission, launched a preliminary investigation into how the platform uses data about merchants. Margrethe Vestager, EU Competition Commissioner said that the informal probe concerns the e-commerce group’s dual role as a competitor while
  • In September 2018, Google was discovered to be prototyping a search engine, codenamed Dragonfly, designed to comply with China's censorship regime. Among other features, Dragonfly would tie users' searches to their personal phone numbers, ensuring the government could track their queries. Among the
  • After a series of scandals, in the year up to September 2018 54% of American Facebook users had changed their privacy settings and 42% had skipped visiting the platform for several weeks or more. About 26% said they had deleted the Facebook app from their smartphone. Some 74% of Facebook users had
  • Facebook-owned Onavo VPN (adertised as a way to block harmful websites, and keep a user's data safe) is pulled from the Apple App Store due to tracking, collecting, and analysing customers' usage data, including from other unrelated apps. https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/08/facebook-violates
  • In 2018, changes to Apple's rules for data collection led Facebook to withdraw its Onavo Protect VPN app from the app store. The app's function was to warn users when they were visiting potentially harmful websites and protected their data when using public wifi. However, the app also collected data
  • The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) used Rekognition, Amazon’s facial recognition software, to compare images of US lawmakers to a publicly available database of 25,000 mugshot photos. The ACLU’s study validated research that has shown that facial recognition technology is more likely to
  • In July 2018, Facebook announced it was investigating whether the Boston-based company Crimson Hexagon had violated the company's policies on surveillance. Crimson Hexagon markets itself as offering "consumer insights". Its customers include a Russian non-profit with ties to the Kremlin, and
  • In June 2018 Facebook announced it would install new controls to improve members' understanding of how companies targeted them with advertising, including letting them know if a data broker supplied the information. This was the second update to the company's policies in 2018; in March it attempted
  • Even after 2015, when Facebook said it had walled off user records from third parties, inside sources and court documents showed that the company went on maintaining a whitelist of companies that were allowed customised access to information about users' Friends, phone numbers, and a "friend link"
  • Amazon has been accused of treating its UK warehouse staff like robots. Between 2015 and 2018, ambulances were called out close to 600 times to Amazon’s UK warehouses. A Freedom of Information request to ambulance services from the GMB union revealed 115 call-outs to Amazon’s site in Rugeley, near
  • In May 2018, the ACLU of Northern California obtained documents under a FOIA request showing that Amazon was essentially giving away its two-year-old Rekognition facial recognition tools to law enforcement agencies in Oregon and Orlando, Florida. Amazon defended the move by saying the technology has
  • In May 2018, Google announced an AI system to carry out tasks such as scheduling appointments over the phone using natural language. A Duplex user wanting to make a restaurant booking, for example, could hand the task off to Duplex, which would make the phone call and negotiate times and numbers. In
  • In May 2018, Facebook said that as part of its investigation into how Cambridge Analytica had abused personal data on the social network, it had investigated thousands of apps on its platform and suspended about 200 of them. The company said it was investigating further to identify every app that
  • In May 2018 Facebook announced it would partner with organisations in places such as Myanmar and South Sudan in order to develop more "context-specific" knowledge about how its platform is being abused to create real risks of harm and violence. In Myanmar, where telephone companies allowed Facebook
  • A 2018 law passed in Egypt requires ride-hailing services such as Uber and local competitor Careem to supply passenger data to the security agencies when requested to do so. More than 4 million people in Egypt have used Uber since it debuted there in 2014. While human rights advocates expressed
  • In 2018, the Chinese Communist Party's anti-corruption watchdog in southeastern Hefei in the Anhul province claimed in a social media post that its branch in a neighbouring city had retrieved deleted messages from a suspect's WeChat account. Tencent, WeChat's operator, denied that the company stored
  • By 2018, Palantir, founded in 2004 by Peter Thiel to supply tools for finding obscure connections by analysing a wide range of data streams to the Pentagon and the CIA for the War on Terror, was supplying its software to the US Department of Health and Human Services to detect Medicare fraud, to the
  • The body of a 57-year-old was found in the laundry room of her home in Valley View, Adelaide, in September 2016. Her daughter-in-law who was in the house at the time of the murder claimed that she was tied up by a group of men who entered the house and managed to escape when they left. However, the
  • Users downloading their Facebook histories have been startled to find that the company has been collecting call and SMS data. The company has responded by saying users are in control of what's uploaded to Facebook. However, the company also says it's a widely used practice when users first sign in
  • In March 2018, Facebook announced it was scrapping plans to show off new home products at its developer conference in May, in part because revelations about the use of internal advertising tools by Cambridge Analytica have angered the public. The new products were expected to include connected
  • In 2015, Facebook removed a feature that had been in place for some years that allowed developers to access information about Friends who had also signed up for their app. During that time, about 270,000 people downloaded and installed an app that was portrayed as part of an online personality quiz
  • In February 2018 Uber and the city of Cincinnati, Ohio announced the Cincinnati Mobility Lab, a three-year-partnership that will allow the city and the surrounding area in northern Kentucky to use Uber data for transport planning. Cincinnati, like many cities, is anxious to identify the impact of
  • As part of its attempt to keep its 40,000 drivers operating on the streets of London after Transport for London ruled in October 2017 it was not "fit and proper" to run a taxi service, Uber has promised to share its anonymised data on travel conditions and journey times. TfL said in February 2018
  • A former Facebook insider explains to Wired Magazine why it's almost certain that the Trump campaign's skill using the site's internal advertising infrastructure was more important in the 2016 US presidential election than Russia's troll farm was. The first was the ads auction; the second a little
  • Amazon, which is already known for closely monitoring its warehouse workers has been granted two US patents on a wristband that could use ultrasonic sound pujlses and radio transmissions track a worker's every move, pause, or fidget, and vibrate to provide haptic feedback to nudge them when they
  • Police investigating the 2016 rape and murder of a 19-year-old medical student were unable to search the iPhone of suspect Hussein Khavari, an Afghan refugee who declined to give them his password. The investigators gained access to the phone via a private company in Munich, and went through Apple's
  • A 19-year-old medical student was raped and drowned in the River Dresiam in October 2016. The police identified the accused by a hair found at the scene of the crime. The data recorded by the health app on his phone helped identify his location and recorded his activities throughout the day. A
  • As of early 2018, Facebook's friends recommendations (People You May Know) are based on the address books users give them. However, Facebook has been filing patent applications for a new generation of technologies for collecting more information about its users and matching them more accurately. One
  • Research from ProPublica in December 2017 found that dozens of companies, including Verizon, Amazon, and Target are using Facebook to target job ads to exclude older workers. Excluding older workers is illegal under US law, but Facebook's system allows advertisers to specify precisely who should see
  • In December 2017, the German cartel office presented preliminary findings in an investigation of Facebook, ruling that the company had abused its dominant position by requiring access to third-party data (including data from subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram) when an account is opened and tracking
  • In 2015, James Bates (of Arkansas, United States) was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Victor Collins. Collins was found floating face down in Bates’ hot tub in November 2015, police said. Amazon Echo entered the murder case because someone present on the night of Collins’ death
  • A mistake in Facebook's machine translation service led to the arrest and questioning of a Palestinian man by Israeli police. The man, a construction worker on the West Bank, posted a picture of himself leaning against a bulldozer like those that have been used in hit-and-run terrorist attacks, with
  • In September 2017, the Spanish national data protection regulator fined Facebook €1.2 million, alleging that the company collected personal information from Spanish users that could then be used for advertising. The investigation, which took place alongside others in Belgium, France, Germany, and
  • In 2017 the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission asking the agency to block Google's Store Sales Measurement service, which the company introduced in May at the 2017 Google Marketing Next event. Google's stated goal was to link offline sales to
  • A man from Middletown, Ohio, was indicted in January 2017 for aggravated arson and insurance fraud for allegedly setting fire to his home in September 2016. Ohio authorities decided and succeeded to obtain a search warrant for the data recorded on the pacemaker after identifying inconsistencies in
  • When Google launched Gmail in 2004, the new service rapidly gained acceptance because it offered far more storage space than any other comparable service. From the beginning, however, Gmail scanned the contents of emails to help the company generate contextual ads. Scanning has never applied to the
  • In May 2017, the European Commission fined Facebook $122 million for providing incorrect or misleading information during its 2014 acquisition of WhatsApp. At the time of the acquisition, Facebook assured the EC that it would not be able to link its accounts database to that of WhatsApp. After the
  • Facebook has come under fire after leaked documents revealed the social media site has been targeting potentially vulnerable children. The allegations suggest the company is gathering information on young people who “need a confidence boost” to facilitate predatory advertising practices
  • Connecticut police have used the data collected by a murder victim's Fitbit to question her husband's alibi. Richard Dabate, accused of killing his wife in 2015, claimed a masked assailant came into the couple's home and used pressure points to subdue him before shooting his wife, Connie. However
  • Widespread controversy resulted when users discovered in April 2017 that the little-known data company Slice Intelligence was passing anonymised data derived from scanning users' email inboxes to the ride-hailing company Uber. The story illustrates both the power of anonymous data and the complex
  • For some months in 2017, in one of a series of high-risk missteps, Uber violated Apple's privacy guidelines by tagging and identifying iPhones even after their users had deleted Uber's app. When Apple discovered the deception, CEO Tim Cook told Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to cease the practice or face
  • In 2017, Uber began a programme experimenting with using psychology and social science insights to influence when, where, and how long its drivers work. Among other techniques, Uber auto-loaded the next fare to encourage the driver equivalent of binge TV-watching; reminded drivers when they're close
  • In 2017, the New York Times discovered that Uber had a secret internal programme known as "Greyball", which used data collected from the Uber app and other techniques to identify and bar regulators and officials from using its service. As the company expanded into new areas, its standard practice
  • When journalist Alex Hern needed to set up a Facebook account in order to manage the Guardian's technology page and other work-related things, he locked down its privacy settings so that the account's profile would not appear in searches and only Friends of Friends could add him as a friend. In
  • In 2016, Facebook gave conflicting accounts of whether the service uses location data in order to recommend prospective Friends in its "People You May Know" feature. When the company first admitted - for publication - that location data was indeed one of the signals it used, many users felt this
  • In 2016, Facebook and Google began introducing ways to measure the effectiveness of online ads by linking them to offline sales and in-store visits. Facebook's measurement tools are intended to allow stores to see how many people visit in person after seeing a Facebook campaign, and the company
  • Uber has closely studied how dynamic pricing functions and when it's acceptable to users. One discovery is that round numbers signal haste and sloppiness where riders appear to believe that more precise numbers (for example, 2.1 instead of 2) have been carefully worked out by an algorithm. The
  • Twitter requested one of its key B2B partners, Dataminr — a service that offers advanced social media analytics and early detection of major events like terrorist attacks or natural disasters — stop providing U.S. intelligence agencies with their tools and content. Dataminr isn’t ending its
  • In 2012, London Royal Free, Barnet, and Chase Farm hospitals agreed to provide Google's DeepMind subsidiary with access to an estimated 1.6 million NHS patient records, including full names and medical histories. The company claimed the information, which would remain encrypted so that employees
  • In April 2016, Google's Nest subsidiary announced it would drop support for Revolv, a rival smart home start-up the company bought in 2014. After that, the company said, the thermostats would cease functioning entirely because they relied on connecting to a central server and had no local-only mode
  • In what proved to be the first of several years of scandals over the use of personal data in illegal, anti-democratic campaigning, in 2015 the Guardian discovered that Ted Cruz's campaign for the US presidency paid at least $750,000 that year to use tens of millions of profiles of Facebook users
  • In 2015, Facebook created the "Free Basics" programme, in which the company partnered with telephone carriers in various countries to offer free access to Facebook - that is, using Facebook would not count against their data plan. While critics argued the plan is anti-competitive, violates the
  • In 2015, a data leak apparently linked to the new Uber partner app exposed the personal information of hundreds of drivers, including their Social Security numbers, scanned drivers' licences, tax forms, and other documents. The information was likely to have been available for at least a few hours
  • In June 2015, the Belgian data protection regulator, Commission for the Protection of Privacy, launched a complaint that Facebook indiscriminately tracked internet users when they visited Facebook pages or clicked Like or Share, even when they are not Facebook members. In November 2015, the Court of
  • In 2015, Facebook's AI lab announced that its researchers had devised an experimental algorithm that could recognise people in photographs even when their faces are hidden or turned away. The researchers trained a sophisticated neural network on a dataset of 40,000 photographs taken from Flickr
  • Nearly 700,000 Facebook users were subjects of a research study where researchers changed randomly selected users' newsfeeds to be more positive or negative to study whether those users then displayed a more positive or negative affect in response. The experiment showed the power of Facebook's control over the News Feed and the algorithms that determine which of the possible pieces of content shows up at the top at any given moment.
  • In 2009, Spanish citizen Mario Costeja González objected to the fact that an auction notice from 1998, when his home was repossessed, was still accessible on the website of the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia and the first thing people saw when they searched for him on Google. When the courts
  • In 2013, Edward Snowden, working under contract to the US National Security Agency for the consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton, copied and leaked thousands of classified documents that revealed the inner workings of dozens of previously unknown surveillance programs. One of these was PRISM, launched in
  • In January 2013, Facebook upgraded its search tool to enable the site to answer more complex questions. Called Graph Search, the new tool aimed to make it possible for users to find businesses and each other based on location, personal history, personal interests, and mutual friends. The site
  • In 2012 the US Consumer Watchdog advocacy group filed a complaint against Google alleging that the company had violated its 2011 consent decree with the US Federal Trade Commission in the case about Google Buzz. The complaint was based on February 2012 revelations that the site was failing to honour
  • In 2012, Google announced it would condense 70 different privacy policies into a single one that would allow the company to merge the data collected across all its services, including Maps, search, Android, Books, Chrome, Wallet, Gmail, and the advertising service provided by its DoubleClick
  • In 2012, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's sister, Randi, tweeted to fellow Twitter user Callie Schweitzer that Schweitzer had violated her privacy by posting a picture taken in her kitchen. Randi Zuckerberg, the former head of Facebook's marketing department, had posted the picture, which was taken in
  • In November 2011, the US Federal Trade Commission charged Facebook with repeatedly breaking the privacy promises it made to users. Among the list of deceptive practices and incidents in the FTC's complaint were December 2009 changes Facebook made to its site that publicly exposed information users
  • Facebook's new "Download your Information" feature provides only a fraction of the personal information held by Facebook.
  • In June 2011, Facebook enabled an automatic facial recognition called "Tag Suggestions" based on its research project DeepFace, requiring users who objected to opt out. The feature scanned the faces in newly uploaded photographs and compared them to those in the billions of images already on the
  • In July 2011, the established writer GrrlScientist tried to log into her Google account and found that it was suspended, barring her access to Gmail, Google Docs, YouTube, Google Reader, and the newly launched social network Google+. It turned out that the reason was then when Google launched its
  • In 2010, increasing adoption of social media sites such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr led Google to develop Buzz, an attempt to incorporate status updates and media-sharing into its Gmail service. Users could link their various social media feeds, including Picasa (Google's photo-sharing
  • In early 2011, Facebook launched "Sponsored Stories", an advertising product that used content from members' posts inside ads displayed on the service. Drawing on Likes, check-ins, and comments, a Sponsored Story might use a member's photograph and their comments from a coffee shop to create an ad
  • Over the years from 2005, when Facebook was still known as "Thefacebook" and its membership was still limited to verifiable Harvard students, to 2010, Facebook changed its privacy policies many times. Over that time, the default circle of who could view users' data widened over time, first to
  • In October 2010, the Wall Street Journal discovered that apps on Facebook were sending identifying information such as the names of users and their Friends to myriad third-party app advertising and internet tracking companies. All of the ten most popular Facebook apps, including Zynga's FarmVille
  • In 2010, Google revealed that a data audit required by Germany's data protection authority had revealed that since 2007 the cars deployed to capture images for its Street View project had accidentally captured 600GB of data from local wifi networks, including personal web browsing histories. Google
  • In April 2010, Facebook launched a set of tools to enable websites to add a social layer by adding a Facebook frame to their pages. The company's three launch partners, Microsoft's Docs.com, Yelp, and Pandora, had access to a more comprehensive tool, Instant Personalization, which allowed them to
  • In July 2009 after an in-depth study of the site spurred by complaints from the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic at the University of Ottawa, Canada's Privacy Commissioner issued a ruling that Facebook was in direct violation of the country's privacy laws. Among the regulator's
  • In 2009, Amazon Kindle readers were surprised to find that their copies of George Orwell’s 1984 was missing from their devices. Amazon had remotely deleted these copies after it found out from the publisher that the third-party vendor selling them did not own the rights to the books. Amazon refunded
  • In May 2009, University of Cambridge computer science researcher Joseph Bonneau discovered as part of his research that many social network respond to user requests to delete photographs by hiding them while remaining them on their servers. Among the worst offenders were Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, and
  • Google launched its first version of Android in 2009. Based on a modified Linux kernel and other open source software, Android provides the operating system for mobile phones, tablets, televisions, cars, wrist watches, and many other devices including digital cameras, game consoles, PCs, and
  • In February 2008, users discovered that deleting their account from Facebook does not entirely remove it. Instead, the company's servers retained copies of the information in those accounts indefinitely even after those users telephoned the company to request full removal. The company argued that
  • In November 2007, Facebook launched Beacon, an advertising programme that allowed third-party sites to include a script that passed Facebook notifications about users' activities on their sites such as purchases, auction bids, reviews, and game-playing. The service as originally designed offered no
  • In September 2007, Facebook, which from its 2004 founding had stressed the privacy of its user profiles and interactions, opened up its profiles to public search engines such as Google and Bing. Facebook's new "public listing search" allowed anyone to search for a particular person; such searches
  • In May 2007, Google launched Street View, an add-on to its Maps service that allows users to see and "drive" through images of streets and buildings. Almost immediately, the service provoked controversy when users realised that these images included pictures looking through the windows of their
  • DoubleClick was one of the first companies set up to sell display advertising on the web. Set up in 1996, it went public in 1998, and in 1999 merged with the data collection company Abacus Direct. In response to a 2001 US Federal Trade Commission investigation of the proposed merger, DoubleClick
  • To personalise the services it offers, Google retains user data such as search histories and as well as the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and other digital identifiers that enable the company to link search queries to the specific computer where they were generated. Until March 2007, the company
  • In 2006, Facebook redesigned its system to add News Feed and Mini-Feed features, which the company said were intended to give users information about their social world. The News Feed was designed to provide a constantly updated stream of stories including updates from each user's Friends and
  • In 2005, Google launched its web analytics service, which tracks and reports website traffic. The most widely-used analytics service on the web, Google Analytics comes in three versions: free, the subscription enterprise service 360, and a mobile service that collects analytics from both iOS and
  • The first iteration of Facebook, which then-student Mark Zuckerberg launched at Harvard University in 2003, was known as "Facemash", and was based on a popular website of the day, Am I Hot or Not? Using photographs of students scraped from those collected by the university's houses of residence, the
  • The first example of internet users being blindsided by the retention of information they had thought was ephemeral was Usenet, a worldwide collection of discussion groups ("newsgroups") created in 1979. At the beginning, computers called each other directly to swap and distribute new postings; as