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.

 

11 May 2018
In 2018, the Brazil-based Coding Rights' feminist online cybersecurity guide Chupadados undertook a study of four popular period-tracking apps to find which best protected user privacy. Most, they found, rely on collecting and analysing data in order to be financially viable. The apps track more
28 May 2018
In 2018, an investigation found that children as young as nine in Hong Kong were exposing their identities online via Tik Tok, the most-downloaded iPhone app for creating and sharing short videos. Both Tik Tok and its sibling app Musical.ly, which is popular in Europe, Australia, and the US and
01 Mar 2018
As part of efforts to tone down street fights at night Statumseind in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, the city has deployed technology: wifi trackers, cameras, and microphones attached to lamp posts detect aggressive behaviour and alert police. The data collected by these sensors is used to profile
05 May 2018
In May 2018, Slice Technologies, which provides the free Unroll.me email management service in return for data-mining individuals' email inboxes, announced it would discontinue offering its service in Europe rather than comply with the incoming General Data Protection Regulation. Unroll.me's privacy
07 May 2018
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
19 Jul 2018
In November 2018 New York City's housing committee ruled that Airbnb must turn over the addresses and host names that use its service to the city's Office of Special Enforcement as part of a crackdown on illegal operators. The hotel industry contended in a report earlier in the year that around two
20 Aug 2018
In August 2018 the US Food and Drug Administration approved the first over-the-counter digital contraceptive, an app called Natural Cycles. The app, which analyses basal body temperature readings and monthly menstruation data to determine whether unprotected sex is likely to lead to pregnancy
23 Aug 2018
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
23 Aug 2018
In August 2018, domestic abuse victims, their lawyers, shelter workers, and emergency responders began finding that the Internet of Things was becoming an alarming new tool for harassment, monitoring, revenge, and control. Smartphone apps enable abusers to remotely control everyday objects inside
14 Aug 2018
Semi-autonomous cars with built-in internet connections are increasingly being delivered with location tracking in place. Marketed as a convenience, the app FordPass links to Ford's Sync Infotainment system and can log frequent and recently visited locations. Similarly, GM Onstar's Family Link
15 Aug 2018
In 2018, Wells Fargo disclosed that due to a computer bug that remained undiscovered for nearly five years 600 customers were granted more expensive mortgage loans than they could have qualified for. About 400 of them went on to lose their homes. The announcement reignited the public anger and
13 Aug 2018
In August 2018, banks and merchants had begun tracking the physical movements users make with input devices - keyboard, mouse, finger swipes - to aid in blocking automated attacks and suspicious transactions. In some cases, however, sites are amassing tens of millions of identifying "behavioural
14 Sep 2018
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
03 Aug 2018
Cookies and other tracking mechanisms are enabling advertisers to manipulate consumers in new ways. For $29, The Spinner will provide a seemingly innocent link containing an embedded cookie that will allow the buyer to deliver targeted content to their chosen recipient. The service advertises
14 Aug 2018
In August 2018 Amazon rolled out a software update to Fire OS 5, the operating system used by older versions of its Fire TV and Fire TV Stick devices to counteract malware. At risk were versions of the devices before the company released Fire OS 6 whose owners had turned on Android Debug Bridge in
12 Sep 2018
In September 2018, the attorney general of the US state of New Mexico filed suit against Lithuania-based Tiny Lab Productions claiming that the maker of the children's app Fun Kid Racing had violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (1998) by collecting location and other data about the
26 Sep 2018
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
27 Mar 2018
Affiliate marketers, who buy ad space in bulk, run campaigns, and earn commissions on the sales they generate, are behind some of the shady and misleading ads that pollute social media and the wider internet, despite also promoting some legitimate businesses such as Amazon and eBay. At one of
25 Aug 2018
By the time T-Mobile announced in August 2018 that a data breach had compromised customers' names, billing zip codes, email addresses, account numbers, account types, phone numbers, and some hashed passwords, the most crucial of these had become phone numbers. Never intended as identifiers, phone
23 Oct 2018
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