Claims of anonymised data

The French telecom operator Orange is repurposing its 2013 Flux Vision, which allowed cities and tourist destinations to see their visitors' travel flows, to answer European Commissioner Thierry Breton's call for the EU's mobile operators to provide their location data to fight the pandemic through
17 Mar 2020
The Austrian telecom operator A1 has voluntarily provided the government with "anonymized" location data of its customers for the first two Saturdays in March. The data shows that citizens have significantly reduced their social contacts. After critics expressed privacy concerns, the company issued
A study published in February 2019 found that 95% of the predictive accuracy for an individual can be achieved solely by analysing their social ties; the person's data is not needed. Given as few as eight or nine of an individual's contacts, it should be possible to profile the individual even if
02 Apr 2018
The Sunday edition of the national newspaper Bild reported that Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) party and the centre-right Free Democrats (FDP) party purchased "more than a billion" pieces of personal data about potential voters from a subsidiary of Deutsche Post
30 Jun 2018
In 2018, the Spanish La Liga app was found to be using the microphone and GPS to clamp down on bars infringing copyright by broadcasting matches without paying. Granting the app the permissions it requests at installation to access the mic and GPS location allows it to turn on the mic at any time
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
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 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
28 Feb 2018
As part of its attempt to keep its 40,000 drivers operating on the streets of London after Transport for London ruled in October 2017 it was not "fit and proper" to run a taxi service, Uber has promised to share its anonymised data on travel conditions and journey times. TfL said in February 2018
The Danish company Blip Systems deploys sensors in cities, airports, and railway stations to help understand and analyse traffic flows and improve planning. In the UK's city of Portsmouth, a network of BlipTrack sensors was installed in 2013 by VAR Smart CCTV, and the data it has collected is used
28 Feb 2018
Recruiters are beginning to incorporate emotional recognition technology into the processes they use for assessing video-based job applications. Human, a London-based start-up, claims its algorithms can match the subliminal facial expressions of prospective candidates to personality traits. It then
02 Jun 2010
In 2010, Apple's then-CEO Steve Jobs revealed that the reason his company changed the rules in the written agreement it requires iPhone app developers to sign was due to a report published by the vice-president of the app analytics company Flurry, Peter Farago. In one of its monthly reports on app
29 Jan 2018
In November 2017, San Francisco-based Strava, maker of a GPS-enabled fitness app, published a heat map showing the activity of all its 27 million users around the world. Upon outside examination, the data visualisation, which was built from 1 billion activities and 3 trillion data points covering 27
28 Dec 2017
In 2016, the US Federal Trade Coimmission issued a warning to app developers that had installed Silverpush, software that uses device microphones to listen for audio signals inaudible to the human ear that identify the television programmes they are watching. Nonetheless, similar technology
17 Dec 2017
"To the 53 people who’ve watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you?" Netflix tweeted in December 2017. While the tweet did not contain any information that could have identified any of the 53 people, it still made many of those who saw it uncomfortable. A Christmas
20 Apr 2017
Using anonymised data GPS data from mobile devices, primarily smart phones, SafeGraph concluded that the crowds attending the US presidential inauguration in January 2016 make significantly less money than attendees of the Women's March two months later. The income level estimates were made possible
18 Oct 2017
Our usual image of online advertising is that we are one of millions whose data is being examined by a large, remote organisation - a government or major company. Research from the University of Washington has found that anyone equipped with time, determination, and a relatively small budget of $1
24 Apr 2017
Widespread controversy resulted when users discovered in April 2017 that the little-known data company Slice Intelligence was passing anonymised data derived from scanning users' email inboxes to the ride-hailing company Uber. The story illustrates both the power of anonymous data and the complex
19 Mar 2013
The Satellite Sentinel Project, a constellation of high-powered satellites trained to find atrocities on the ground with a half-metre resolution, was set up in 2009 to find human rights abuses in the conflict in Sudan. Conceived by former Clinton administration State department staffer John
24 Jan 2014
In 2014, DataKind sent two volunteers to work with GiveDirectly, an organisation that makes cash donations to poor households in Kenya and Uganda. In order to better identify villages with households that are in need, the volunteers developed an algorithm that classified village roofs in satellite
25 Dec 2015
In 2015, the Royal Parks conducted a covert study of visitors to London's Hyde Park using anonymised mobile phone signals provided by the network operator EE to analyse footfall. During the study, which was conducted via government-funded Future Cities Catapult, the Royal Parks also had access to
23 Feb 2016
A 2016 study from the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation found that in 95% of cases it takes as few as four of the apps users have installed on their smartphones to reidentify them within a dataset. Based on a study of 54,893 Android users over seven months, the
02 Oct 2015
In 2015, researchers at Harvard University found vulnerabilities in the anonymisation procedures used for health care data in South Korea that enabled them to de-anonymise patients with a 100% success rate and to decrypt the Resident Registration Numbers included with prescription data relating to
30 Nov 2015
A 2015 study carried out in Rwanda and published in the journal Science used mobile phone records to study the distribution of wealth and poverty in an attempt to fill in the gap left by the difficulty of collecting accurate statistics. A rought idea of geographic location was derived from
21 Jul 2016
In the past, car insurers relied on drivers to report their annual mileage when renewing their policies. Increasingly, however, insurers are turning to other methods. In 2016, State Farm, a US insurance company, acknowledged that the company verifies the mileage driven by the cars it insures in a
27 Sep 2016
In 2016 researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Cornell University demonstrated that a neural network trained on image datasets can successfully identify faces and objects that have been blurred, pixellated, or obscured by the P3 privacy system. In some cases, the algorithm performed
14 Jun 2016
In 2016, Facebook and Google began introducing ways to measure the effectiveness of online ads by linking them to offline sales and in-store visits. Facebook's measurement tools are intended to allow stores to see how many people visit in person after seeing a Facebook campaign, and the company
21 Jun 2014
In 2014, NYC Planning Labs Chris Whong was sent and made public a complete a complete dump of historical trip and fare logs from New York City taxis in response to a Freedom of Information request. The more than 20GB of uncompressed data comprising more than 173 million individual trips included
27 Apr 2011
As GPS began being increasingly incorporated into smartphones, satnav manufacturers like the Dutch company TomTom were forced to search for new revenue streams. In 2011, TomTom was forced to apologise when the Dutch newspaper AD reported that the company had sold driving data collected from
23 Mar 2016
In 2016, the Big Data lab at the Chinese search engine company Baidu published a study of an algorithm it had developed that it claimed could predict crowd formation and suggested it could be used to warn authorities and individuals of public safety threats stemming from unusually large crowds. The
21 Apr 2016
According to the US security firm Statfor the Chinese government has been builsing a system to analyse the massive amounts of data it has been collecting over the past years. The company claims: "The new grid management system aims to help the Chinese government act early to contain social unrest