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.

 

31 Mar 2017
By 2017, facial recognition was developing quickly in China and was beginning to become embedded in payment and other systems. The Chinese startup Face++, valued at roughly $1 billion, supplies facial recognition software to Alipay, a mobile payment app used by more than 120 million people; the
02 Dec 2016
For a period between the end of October and November 3 2016 the heating and hot water systems in two buildings in the city of Lappeenranta, Finland were knocked out by a distributed denial of service attack designed to make the systems fail. The systems responded by repeatedly rebooting the main
06 Apr 2017
In 2015, the Swedish startup hub Epicenter began offering employees microchip implants that unlock doors, operate printers, and pay for food and drink. By 2017, about 150 of the 2,000 workers employed by the hub's more than 100 companies had accepted the implants. Epicenter is just one of a number
30 Aug 2018
The payday lender Wonga announced in April 2017 that a data breach at the company affected an estimated 270,000 customers, 245,000 of them in the UK and the rest in Poland. The company sent those it thought were affected messages warning that it believed there may have been illegal and unauthorised
21 Mar 2017
In 2017, an anonymous whistleblower sent a letter to Green party peer Jenny Jones alleging that a secretive Scotland Yard unit was illegally monitoring the private emails of campaigners and journalists. The letter included a list of ten people and the passwords to their email accounts and claimed
In 2017, when user Robert Martin posted a frustrated, disparaging review of the remote garage door opening kit Garadget on Amazon, the peeved owner briefly locked him out of the company's server and told him to send the kit back. After complaints on social media and from the company's board members
A 2017 research report found that the most vulnerable smartphone users are the ones whose devices are most open to fraud and harassment. Cheaper, low-end devices are less secure to begin with, and they are also less often replaced than their more expensive counterparts made by. Apple and Google. At
01 May 2017
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
02 Apr 2017
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
23 Jun 2018
Even after they move out, domestic abusers may retain control over their former residence via Internet of Things devices and the mobile phone apps that control them. Using those tools, abusers can confuse, intimidate, and spy upon their former spouses and partners. Lack of knowledge about how these
A 2017 lawsuit filed by Chicagoan Kyle Zak against Bose Corp alleges that the company uses the Bose Connect app associated with its high-end Q35 wireless headphones to spy on its customers, tracking the music, podcasts, and other audio they listen to and then violates their privacy rights by selling
In 2017, a website run by the Jharkhand Directorate of Social Security leaked the personal details of over.1 million Aadhaar subscribers, most of them old age pensioners who had enabled automatic benefits payment into their bank accounts. Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identification number issued to
In 2015, IBM began testing its i2 Enterprise Insight Analysis software to see if it could pick out terrorists, distinguish genuine refugees from imposters carrying fake passports, and perhaps predict bomb attacks. Using a scoring system based on several data sources and a hypothetical scenario, IBM
03 Mar 2017
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
In 2015 Hong Kong's Face of Litter campaign used DNA samples taken from street litter and collected from volunteers to create facial images that were then posted on billboards across the city. The campaign, conceived by PR firm Ogilvy & Mather and organised by online magazine Ecozine and the Nature
23 Apr 2017
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