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.

 

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
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
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
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
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
Two of the most notorious malware outbreaks of 2017 were the ransomware WannaCry and the wiper malware NotPetya. Both relied on the NSA's EternalBlue exploit of the Microsoft Server Message Block, which was leaked online by the hacker group The Shadow Brokers. Along with EternalBlue, The Shadow
In 2016, Facebook and its photo-sharing subsidiary Instagram rolled out a new reporting tool that lets users anonymously flag posts that suggest friends are threatening self-harm or suicide. The act of flagging the post triggers a message from Instagram to the user in question offering support
A remote-controlled yellow and black robot dog built by Boston Dynamics has been deployed in a Singapore central park for a two-week trial in which the dog politely, in a female voice, in English, reminds cyclists and joggers to stay at least one metre apart. Breaking the lockdown rules attracts
An “intelligence note” found in a trove of law enforcement documents known as BlueLeaks shows that the US Department of Homeland Security fears that face masks are breaking law enforcement facial recognition. The note came from the post-9/11 Minnesota Fusion Center and was distributed on May 26
In the remote western city Xinjiang, the Chinese government is using new technology and humans to monitor every aspect of citizens' lives. China, which has gradually increased restrictions in the region over the last ten years in response to unrest and violent attacks, blames the need for these
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 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 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