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.

 

In the wake of Tesla’s first recorded autopilot crash, automakers are reassessing the risk involved with rushing semi-autonomous driving technology into the hands of distractible drivers. But another aspect of autopilot—its ability to hoover up huge amounts of mapping and “fleet learning” data—is
The popular app Citymapper, which began in London and has since expanded to New York, Paris, and Amsterdam, is a live journey planning application that integrates all available modes of transport. Providing this service allows Citymapper to collect vast amounts of data: where, when, and by what
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
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
Privacy and child advocacy groups in the US, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, and the UK are filing complaints with regulators after a study by the Norwegian Consumer Council found critical security flaws and missing privacy protection in children's smartwatches. The watches
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 paper by Michael Veale (UCL) and Reuben Binns (Oxford), "Fairer Machine Learning in the Real World: Mitigating Discrimination Without Collecting Sensitive Data", proposes three potential approaches to deal with hidden bias and unfairness in algorithmic machine learning systems. Often, the cause is
LinkNYC, a system of 1,000 public wifi kiosks across all five boroughs of New City administered by the private consortium CityBridge, offers free high-speed wifi, phone calls, a charging station for mobile devices, and a built-in tablet to access a variety of city services. Announced by the mayor's
A study describes the data transmitted to backend servers by the Google/Apple based contact tracing (GAEN) apps in use in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Denmark and finds that the health authority client apps are generally well-behaved from a privacy point of view, although the Irish
In 2014, the UK suicide prevention group The Samaritans launched Radar, a Twitter-based service intended to leverage the social graph to identify people showing signs of suicidal intent on social media and alert their friends to reach out to offer them help. The app was quickly taken offline after
Like other countries, the US began incorporating RFID chips into its passports in 2006. The chips, which store passport information including name, date of birth, passport number, photo, and biometric identifiers, enable machine-readable border controls like those now seen at an increasing number of
Among the friends Facebook recommended to Kashmir Hill as people she might know was Rebecca Porter, to the best of her knowledge a total stranger. Because Hill was studying how the "black box" of Facebook recommendations worked, she contacted Porter to ask what the connection might be. To her
The CEO of MoviePass, an app that charges users $10 a month in return for allowing them to watch a movie every day in any of the 90% of US theatres included in its programme, said in March 2018 that the company was exploring the idea of monetising the location data it collects. MoviePass was always
In January 2018 the Cyberspace Administration of China summoned representatives of Ant Financial Services Group, a subsidiary of Alibaba, to rebuke them for automatically enrolling its 520 million users in its credit-scoring system. The main complaint was that people using Ant's Alipay service were
In 2013, in collaboration with the Illinois Institute of Technology, the Chicago Police Department set up the Strategic Subjects List, an effort to identify the most likely victims and perpetrators of gun violence. In 2016, a report published by the RAND Corporation found that the project, which had
In a study of COMPAS, an algorithmic tool used in the US criminal justice system , Dartmouth College researchers Julia Dressel and Hany Farid found that the algorithm did no better than volunteers recruited via a crowdsourcing site. COMPAS, a proprietary risk assessment algorithm developed by
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
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
In 2015, The Intercept obtained documents showing that the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota used a fake Facebook account to friend and monitor local Black Lives Matter activists, and collect their personal information and photographs without their knowledge. The account was discovered in a
Researchers at Princeton University have shown that a vulnerability identified 11 years ago in the password managers built into web browsers can be exploited to allow third parties to track users across more than a thousand websites. The attack depends on the managers' autofill capability, and works