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.


29 Apr 2020
Amazon has spent $10 million to buy 1,500 cameras to take the temperature of workers from the Chinese firm Zhejiang Dahua Technology Company even though the US previously blacklisted Dahua because it was alleged to have helped China detain and monitor the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. The
07 May 2020
In a technical analysis of the UK NHSx contact tracing app for iOS, security engineers find that Apple's Bluetooth design makes it harder to detect iPhones running the app in background mode, and the app is using "keepalive" notifications in order to keep the app able to make the necessary
16 Apr 2020
Moscow's first attempts to introduce digital methods by which residents could obtain digital passes to move around the city failed as the website collapsed numerous times and the app required them to get a pass for every single move rather than only to drive a car, as the government has stated. City
03 May 2020
The state of Utah gave the AI company Banjo real time access to state traffic cameras, CCTV, and public safety cameras, 911 emergency systems, location data for state-owned vehicles, and other data that the company says it's combining with information collected from social media, satellites, and
01 May 2020
The controversial facial recognition company Clearview AI, which came to public attention for scraping billions of photos off social media sites to create a comprehensive facial recognition system, says it has offered to help US federal and three state agencies with contact tracing. The company
01 May 2020
Six weeks after British prime minister Boris Johnson imposed a lockdown, many workers in non-essential jobs across many sectors of the economy were nonetheless being forced to continue working in potentially dangerous situations such as call centres, offices, factories, warehouses, and English
27 Apr 2020
At a cost to itself of £88,000 a week in salaries alone, Palantir has committed 45 engineers to a government data project intended to help predict surges in demand for the NHS during the pandemic. The company will be paid £1 a week for its work. Besides Palantir's work supporting the US Immigration
21 Apr 2020
The French government asked Apple to change the way its phones handle Bluetooth in order to accommodate the design of its contact tracing app. Downloading and installing the app will be voluntary, but the app will use a centralised design in which the data will be fed into a government server for
03 May 2020
The International Press Institute has found that in both democratic and autocratic states the public health crisis has given governments the excuse of preventing the spread of disinformation to exercise control over the media, whether by criminalising journalism or controlling the public narrative
04 May 2020
In April, the US state of North Carolina's Dare County enacted a series of emergency declarations that establish checkpoints at all points where roads cross the county borders; travellers show an ID card with a Dare County address or a county-issued permit in order to enter the county. Dare County
02 May 2020
At least 27 countries are using data from cellphone companies to track the movements of their citizens, and at least 30 have developed smartphone apps for the public to download. Fewer objections have been raised in countries with greater levels of success in containing the virus. However, although
06 May 2020
In Colombia, Peru, and Panama, quarantine regulations assign men and women different days to go out. For transgender people, these gender-based restrictions mean discrimination and violence for law enforcement and others, leading to numerous complaints. In Bogota, where law enforcement has been
21 Apr 2020
Our partners from Karisma in Colombia analysed three different technological solutions intending to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, finding vulnerabilities in them (in Spanish). Link: https://web.karisma.org.co/que-sabemos-de-las-tres-herramientas-que-se-anuncian-como-soluciones-tecnologicas-para
16 Apr 2020
Our partners from Derechos Digitales analysed the Chilean Government App to respond to the Corona Virus, saying that it will likely be useless and infringing on existing privacy rights (in Spanish) Link: https://www.derechosdigitales.org/14387/coronapp-la-inutilidad-del-atajo-tecnologico-desplegado
27 Mar 2020
From our partners from the Defenders Coalition: The civil society’s Police Reforms Working Group, comprised of twenty national human rights organisations, condemn the unnecessary and excessive use of force by Kenya Police Service officers yesterday at the Likoni Ferry Crossing, Mombasa. The police
14 Apr 2020
Our partners from Right to Know campaign in South Africa produced this infosheet to simplify what the South African government has committed to doing in ensuring that the use of surveillance does not impact negatively on people’s rights to privacy and that necessary data protections are taken into
10 May 2020
A number of incidents in which Zoom events in education settings were disrupted led the New York City school district to ban the use of Zoom for remote learning. Among the Zoombombing incidents: saboteurs inserted racist and anti-Semitic messages into a virtual graduation ceremony at Oklahoma City
24 Apr 2020
The Pakistani government has repurposed a system designed by the country's spy agency, inter-Services Intelligence for tracking down terrorists to trace suspected COVID-19 cases. Prime minister Imran Khan has said that efficient tracking and testing of coronavirus-infected people is the only way to
29 Apr 2020
Numerous efforts to create apps to help monitor and map the spread of COVID-19 rely on satnav-based location data from Galileo. The CovTrack app developed on a pro-bono basis by the Romanian company RISE, for example, uses Bluetooth connections between mobile phones to store identification data the
30 Apr 2020
Researchers at the University of Cape Town are developing the smartphone app COVI-ID to help the South African government track people who may not know they have contracted COVID-19, as well as people who have come into contact with those who have tested positive. The app will use Bluetooth and