Examples of Abuse

Almost everyday a company or government abuses your data. Whether these abuses are intentional or the result of error, we must learn from these abuses so that we can better build tomorrow's policies and technologies. This resource is an opportunity to learn that this has all happened before, as well as a tool to query these abuses.

Please contact us if you think we are missing some key stories.

 

01 Nov 2019
A woman was killed by a spear to the chest at her home in Hallandale Beache, Florida, north of Miami, in July. Witness "Alexa" has been called yet another time to give evidence and solve the mystery. The police is hoping that the smart assistance Amazon Echo, known as Alexa, was accidentally
12 Sep 2019
Denmark released 32 prisoners as part of an ongoing review of 10,700 criminal cases, after serious questions arose regarding the reliability of geolocation data obtained from mobile phone operators. Among the various problems with the software used to convert the phone data into usable evidence, it
31 Jul 2019
The Lumi by Pampers nappies will track a child's urine (not bowel movements) and comes with an app that helps you "Track just about everything". The activity sensor that is placed on the nappy also tracks a baby's sleep. Concerns over security and privacy have been raised, given baby monitors can be
Le Monde exposed anti-IVG (anti-abortion) advertising on Facebook as part of a borader campaign led by anti-abortion website IVG.net. The advertisement relied on stock photos and fake testimonies posted in public Facebook groups and promoted to young women. Most of the posts attempt to promote the
01 Feb 2016
French website IVG.net, first Google result when typing IVG (Interuption Volontaire de Grossesse or abortion in french), has been exposed as being anti-abortion website spreading misinformation. Offering an official looking "Numero vert" (free to call phone number number), IVG.net attempts to
16 Nov 2017
In 2017, US Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that it would seek to use artificial intelligence to automatically evaluate the probability of a prospective immigrant “becoming a positively contributing member of society.” In a letter to acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary
17 Aug 2018
US Immigrations & Customs Enforcement (ICE) used social media monitoring to track groups and people in New York City associated with public events opposing the Trump administration’s policies, including ones related to immigration and gun control. The investigative branch of ICE created and
09 Jan 2019
The US government created a database of more than 50 journalists and immigrant rights advocates, many of whom were American citizens, associated with the journey of migrants travelling from Central America to the Mexico-US border in late 2018. Officials from Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
29 Apr 2019
A private intelligence company, LookingGlass Cyber Solutions, used social media to monitor more than 600 “Family Separation Day Protests” held across the United States on June 30, 2018, to oppose the Trump administration’s policy family separation policy. The policy was part of a “zero tolerance”
06 May 2019
Absher, an online platform and mobile phone app created by the Saudi Arabian government, can allow men to restrict women’s ability to travel, live in Saudi Arabia, or access government services. This app, which is available in the Google and Apple app stores, supports and enables the discriminatory
03 Jun 2019
Bahrain has warned its citizens and residents could face legal action simply for following social media accounts it deems anti-government, which raises concerns about the ability of Bahraini citizens and residents to exercise their fundamental rights and freedoms. In May 2019, a state terrorism law
06 Feb 2018
In 2019, after five years of acquisitions and billions of dollars in investment in advertising software and real-time tracking of web users, Oracle, facing questions about the practices of Data Cloud, its advertising software division, began laying off staff. The reason may have been partly
01 Nov 2018
A November 2018 report from Data & Society discusses "data craft", the methods manipulators use to create disinformation with falsified metadata, specifically platform activity signals, which can be read by machine learning algorithms, platforms, and humans. Manipulators use platform features in
11 Feb 2019
A couple who tried, in February 2018, to keep their unborn child a secret from the internet, in part so the child could create its own internet identity when it was ready. They had some success in avoiding being pursued by baby-related ads, but found themselves unable to exercise the control they
16 Feb 2019
In October 2018, Google developers announced Manifest V3, a new standard for developing extensions for its Chrome web browser. One of the modifications included replacing the API used by extensions that need to intercept and work with network requests. The new API, DeclarativeNetRequest, limits the
In a December 2018 update, Facebook so effectively disguised sponsored posts that it took AdBlocker Plus a month, instead of the more usual few days, to find a way to counter it. Facebook has responded to the threat posed to its business model by adblockers by both providing users with advertising
21 Nov 2018
In November 2018 the campaign group Freedom from Facebook used the social network's own advertising tools to promote a "safe space" website where they can submit whistleblower tips anonymously. Facebook declined to comment but did not appear to be blocking the ads nor keeping a log of who viewed
In November 2018, a UK Gambling Commission audit found that the number of problem gamblers aged 11 to 16 had quadrupled to 55,000 over two years, 70,000 children were at risk, and 450,000, or one in seven, children aged 11 to 16 bet regularly, spending, on average, £16 a week on fruit machines
15 Nov 2018
In November 2018 Bidooh announced it was developing an intelligent and automated digital billboard advertising platform that it said would leverage facial recognition and blockchain technology to track engagement. Billboard advertising is valued globally at almost $34.8 billion a year. Bidooh has
02 Dec 2018
Days after the 2018 shooting that killed 11 Jewish congregants in a Pittsburgh synagogue, The Intercept found that Facebook still allowed advertisers to choose "white genocide conspiracy theory" as a targeting criterion, capturing 168,000 members of the social network. The technique used was the