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.

 

11 Apr 2016
In March 2016, a hacker group identifying itself as Anonymous Philippines defaced the website of the Philippine Commission on the Elections (Comelec), leaving a message that accused Comelec of not doing enough to secure the voting machines due to be used in the general election the following month
10 Jan 2016
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. In Fresno, California, the police department's $600,000 Real Time Crime Center is providing a model for other such centres that have opened in New
10 Mar 2016
In 2016, Spanish Jose Carlos Norte, the chief technology officer at Telefonica subsidiary EyeOS, used the scanning software Shodan to find thousands of publicly exposed telematics gateway units. TGUs are small radio-enabled devices that are attached to industrial vehicles so their owners can track
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
01 Sep 2016
Automated systems such as the personality test developed by Massachusetts-based workforce management company Kronos are increasingly used by large companies to screen job applicants. To avoid falling foul of regulations prohibiting discrimination against those with mental illness, often the
01 Jun 2016
The price of using voice search is that Google records many of the conversations that take place in their presence. Users wishing to understand what Google has captured can do so by accessing the portal the company introduced in 2015. Their personal history pages on the site include both a page
31 May 2016
As speech recognition and language-processing software continue to improve, the potential exists for digital personal assistants - Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, and Google Assistant - to amass deeper profiles of customers than has ever been possible before. A new level of competition arrived in 2016
30 Nov 2015
In 2015, a small number of Silicon Valley start-ups began experimenting with assessing prospective borrowers in developing countries such as Kenya by inspecting their smartphones. Doing so, they claimed, enabled them to charge less in interest than more traditional microlenders, since many of their
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
09 Oct 2015
In 2015, Ant Financial, a Chinese company affiliated with Alibaba, began deploying "Sesame Credit scores". Ant, which also runs the popular payment app Alipay, claims that it uses both online and offline purchasing and spending habits to calculate a credit worthiness score for each of its more than
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
24 Nov 2016
In 2016 researchers in China claimed an experimental algorithm could correctly identify criminals based on images of their faces 89% of the time. The research involved training an algorithm on 90% of a dataset of 1,856 photos of Chinese males between 18 and 55 with no facial hair or markings. Among
22 Jun 2015
In 2015, Facebook's AI lab announced that its researchers had devised an experimental algorithm that could recognise people in photographs even when their faces are hidden or turned away. The researchers trained a sophisticated neural network on a dataset of 40,000 photographs taken from Flickr
28 Jun 2016
In 2016, Facebook gave conflicting accounts of whether the service uses location data in order to recommend prospective Friends in its "People You May Know" feature. When the company first admitted - for publication - that location data was indeed one of the signals it used, many users felt this
08 Apr 2016
In September 2016, the US Federal Trade Commission hosted a workshop to study the impact of big data analysis on poor people, whose efforts to escape poverty may be hindered by the extensive amounts of data being gathered about them. Among those who intensively surveil low-income communities are
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
03 Mar 2016
In 2016, researchers affiliated with Verto Analytics and the Qatar Computing Research Institute published work in which they analysed the app usage and demographics of more than 3,700 people in order to find correlations. Based on the models they developed, they found they could predict a user's
07 Jul 2016
In 2016, supporters of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul for president were surprised to begin getting emails from the Trump campaign soon after their candidates dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination. In an investigation, CNNMoney found that nearly every failed 2016 presidential candidate sold
18 May 2016
In 2016, Verbraucherzentrale NRW, a consumer protection organisation in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia accused Samsung of harvesting data and sending it back to the company over the internet without informing users as soon as its smart televisions are connected to the internet. The
10 May 2016
In 2016, VICE News discovered that the confidential and "shadowy" World-Check database, which has wrongly linked individuals to terrorist activity, was being widely used by British police and intelligence. Also a customer is the Charity Commission, which uses it to screen charities and aid