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.

 

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 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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
A report from the University of Washington studies parents' and children's interactions with general-purpose connected devices and connected toys. There are numerous privacy issues: toy companies may collect masses of children's intimate data; the toys may enable parents to spy on their children
The energy company Cuadrilla used Facebook to surveil anti-fracking protesters in Blackpool and forwarded the gathered intelligence to Lancashire Police, which arrested more than 450 protesters at Cuadrilla's Preston New Road site over a period of three years in a policing operation that cost more
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
A 2017 research report found that the most vulnerable smartphone users are the ones whose devices are most open to fraud and harassment. Cheaper, low-end devices are less secure to begin with, and they are also less often replaced than their more expensive counterparts made by. Apple and Google. At
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
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
In January 2019, it was discovered that the HIV-positive status of 14,200 people in Singapore, as well as their identification numbers and contact details, had been leaked online. According to a statement of the Ministry of Health, records leaked include 5,400 Singaporeans diagnosed as HIV-positive
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