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.

 

Mothers of black, male teenagers in Chicago, fear their children will be added to the Chicago Police Department's gang database. As of the end of 2017, the database contains the names of 130,000 people, 90% of them black or Latino, who are suspected of being gang members. Most have never been
Reporter Kashmir Hill tested life in a smart home by adding numerous connected devices. The self-heating bed gave her daily reports on whether she'd reached her "sleep goal". She liked the convenience of the voice-activated lights, coffee maker, and music, the ability to convey a message to a
The UK government, in collaboration with universities, water companies, and public research bodies, is preparing to launch a national research programme to develop an early warning system for future waves of COVID-19 by detecting the coronavirus in sewage. About half of those infected with SARS-CoV
In the early 2000s, "Agbogbloshie", a section of Old Fadama, a large slum on the outskirts of Accra, Ghana, became a dumping ground for unwanted electronic waste, recast as "donations", from the developed world, which found it cheaper to ship in bulk than to recycle: old computers, cameras, TV sets
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
The first signs of the combination of AI and surveillance are beginning to emerge. In December 2017, the digital surveillance manufacturer IC Realtime, launched a web and app platform named Ella that uses AI to analyse video feeds and make them instantly searchable - like a Google for CCTV. Company
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
Internal documents show that local police coordinated with Enbridge, the oil company building the Line 3 pipeline through northern Minnesota, to track and crack down on indigenous opposition to the development in an initiative known as Opposition Driven Operational Threats (ODOT). Enbridge designed
The story began with the free Bylock messaging app, which was used between 2014 and 2016 and which the Turkish government associated with treason and followers of Fethullah Gülen, the group they believe was behind the attempted 2016 coup. The app was downloaded roughly half a million times and had
In a draft January 2018 report obtained by Foreign Policy and produced at the request of US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, the Department of Homeland Security called for continuous vetting of Sunni Muslim immigrants deemed to have "at-risk" profiles. Based on studying 25
When Google and Apple announced their joint platform for contact tracing, the companies said the system would not track users’ locations. By mid-July, the resulting apps had been downloaded more than 20 million times in companies such as Germany and Switzerland. However, in order for Bluetooth
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
A new generation of technology has given local law enforcement officers in some parts of the US unprecedented power to peer into the lives of citizens. The police department of Frenso California uses a cutting-edge Real Time Crime Center that relies on software like Beware. As officers respond to
On August 1, 2017, Wisconsin company Three Square Market began offering its employees the option of implanting a tiny chip between their thumb and index finger. The chip enables employees to wave at hand at any of the company's RFID readers in order to enter the building, pay for food in the
Websites have long used third-party analytics scripts to collect information about how visitors use their sites. In November 2017, researchers at Princeton found that an increasing number of sites use "session replay" scripts that collect every action the user performs while on the site, including
The accuracy of Facebook's ad targeting sometimes leads users to believe that Facebook is spying on them by tapping the microphones in their phones. Facebook has denied the practice - and is likely telling the truth because uploading and scanning the amount of audio data such a system would involve
Canadian federal, provincial, and territorial governments across have put in place numerous emergency measures to curtail behaviour in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. The orders include placing people under quarantine, limiting gatherings, closing schools and businesses, barring most visits to
News & Analysis
Image: Anatomy of an AI system: a map of the many processes — extracting material resources, data, and human labor — that make an Amazon Echo work. Credit: Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler With over 6.3 million Amazon Echo devices worldwide, there is a good chance these constantly active devices will
Security researcher Scott Helme found more than 4,000 websites, including many belonging to the UK government, were infected with Coinhive, code that mines the cryptocurrency Monero. Among the sites affected were those belonging to the Information Commissioner's Office, the Student Loans Company
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