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.

 

07 Feb 2019
In February 2019, publicity led the gay dating app Jack'd, which claimed to have more than 5 million users and was ranked among the top four gay social apps on both Apple and Android, to close a security flaw that meant that photos users uploaded to share in private chat sessions were accessible to
24 Jan 2019
By January 2019, more than 100 million women worldwide were using smartphone apps that began as period-tracking apps but were beginning to branch out into tracking other types of health data - and also to broaden their use of the data they collect in search or profit. Unlike medical establishments
16 May 2019
Facebook has taken down 65 accounts, 161 pages, dozens of groups and four Instagram accounts, which were ran by Archimedes Group, an Israeli political consulting and lobbying firm that aimed at disrupting elections in various countries. Archimedes was mostly active in Sub-Saharan Africa but also
14 Feb 2019
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
01 Apr 2019
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
16 Apr 2019
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
30 Nov 2018
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
21 Sep 2018
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
19 Sep 2018
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
31 May 2018
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
10 Apr 2019
An investigation by Bloomberg, disclosed that thousands of Amazon employees around the world are listening in on Amazon Echo users.
20 Oct 2015
For low-income Americans to receive public benefits they are legally entitled to, they must submit to widespread monitoring of their intimate and personal affairs. This monitoring includes sharing a trove of personal documents and information, unannounced home visits from caseworkers, mandatory face
14 Dec 2018
The New York City public benefits system has been criticized for its punitive design, how it too often disciplines, rather than helps, people who are legally entitled to benefits. According to Mariana Chilton, the public benefits system is designed to control, surveil, and penalize low-income people
02 Dec 2016
Private companies are not the only actors pushing for increased control of benefit claimants. The World Bank has also instrumental in funding programmes aiming at assisting government in administrating welfare programmes which has led to futher surveillance of benefits claimants, in December 2016
21 Jul 2012
The State is not always the only actor involved in the surveillance of benefits claimants. Often those practices are encouraged, facilitated or conducted by private companies. South Africa for instance mandated MasterCard to help distribute benefits through biometric debit cards. https://www
02 Nov 2013
In Israel, the National Insurance Institutes sends out anti-fraud officers to spy on benefits claimants. Among the cases reported, a woman had her benefits allowances halved after a man entered her house pretending to be interested in buying the flat next door. The man, who was in fact a NII
01 Feb 2011
The DWP relies on anti-fraud officers who go and spy on benefit claimants to verify their claims. For instance, claimants who declare that they are a lone parent may end up with an officer trying to verify there is no one else living in the house. And once they are confident that the alleged lone
31 May 2018
The surveillance of benefits claimants does not happen only online. In the UK, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) is known to be using CCTV footage of public buildings but also gyms and supermarkets to prove some benefits claimants are not actually disabled. Gym memberships are also being
04 Dec 2018
In Israel, the National Insurance Institute – in charge of granting benefits – eventually dropped a tender that had caused outrage in the country after being uncovered by Haaretz and Channel 13. The tender revealed the NII was trying to collect online data about benefits claimants – including from
08 Apr 2019
The rise of social media has also been a game changer in the tracking of benefits claimants. In the UK in 2019, a woman was jailed after she was jailed for five months after pictures of her partying in Ibiza emerged on social media. She had previously sued the NHS for £2.5 million, after surviving a