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.

 

23 May 2016
Computer programs that perform risk assessments of crime suspects are increasingly common in American courtrooms, and are used at every stage of the criminal justice systems to determine who may be set free or granted parole, and the size of the bond they must pay. By 2016, the results of these
10 Aug 2015
In May 2015, the US Department of Justice and the FBI submitted a declaration to an Oregon federal judge stating that the US government's no-fly lists and broader watchlisting system relied on predictive judgements of individuals rather than records of actual offences. The documents were filed as
21 Jun 2014
In 2014, NYC Planning Labs Chris Whong was sent and made public a complete a complete dump of historical trip and fare logs from New York City taxis in response to a Freedom of Information request. The more than 20GB of uncompressed data comprising more than 173 million individual trips included
27 Apr 2011
As GPS began being increasingly incorporated into smartphones, satnav manufacturers like the Dutch company TomTom were forced to search for new revenue streams. In 2011, TomTom was forced to apologise when the Dutch newspaper AD reported that the company had sold driving data collected from
07 May 2015
In 2014, India's newly elected prime minister, Narendra Modi, allocated INR70.6 billion (upwards of £750 million) to a plan called "100 Smart Cities". Although a year later the funding dropped to INR1.4 billion, smart city-themed conference continued to take place in Delhi and Mumbai, and urban
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
25 May 2016
In 2015, Boston advertising executive John Flynn, CEO of Copley Advertising, began developing a system that uses standard online advertising and tracking techniques, coupled with geofencing, to send advertisements to women's smartphones when they are sitting inside Planned Parenthood clinics and
03 Mar 2003
In 2003, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that information brokers and private investigators may be liable for the harms caused by selling information. In the case in question, Amy Boyer, a young woman, was murdered by Liam Youens, a stalker. Youens obtained her information from Docusearch
20 May 2016
Uber has closely studied how dynamic pricing functions and when it's acceptable to users. One discovery is that round numbers signal haste and sloppiness where riders appear to believe that more precise numbers (for example, 2.1 instead of 2) have been carefully worked out by an algorithm. The
19 Jun 2015
In 2015, a series of interviews with Moshe Greenshpan, the founder and CEO of the Israeli company Skakash, revealed the existence of the company's facial recognition software Churchix. The software is intended to help churches keep track of who attends services and other events by matching reference
21 Sep 2016
In 2016, researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory developed a new device that uses wireless signals that measure heartbeats by bouncing off a person's body. The researchers claim that this system is 87% accurate in recognising joy, pleasure, sadness, or anger
10 Oct 2016
In 2016, rising awareness of the profits pharmaceutical and other medical companies make from personal data such as DNA samples and cell lines led to the rise of a "biorights" movement to ensure that patients retain greater control over their contributions. A federal complaint filed by the American
08 May 2016
Twitter requested one of its key B2B partners, Dataminr — a service that offers advanced social media analytics and early detection of major events like terrorist attacks or natural disasters — stop providing U.S. intelligence agencies with their tools and content. Dataminr isn’t ending its
23 Mar 2016
In 2016, the Big Data lab at the Chinese search engine company Baidu published a study of an algorithm it had developed that it claimed could predict crowd formation and suggested it could be used to warn authorities and individuals of public safety threats stemming from unusually large crowds. The
21 Apr 2016
According to the US security firm Statfor the Chinese government has been builsing a system to analyse the massive amounts of data it has been collecting over the past years. The company claims: "The new grid management system aims to help the Chinese government act early to contain social unrest
15 Apr 2016
Between 2010 and 2016, access control spyware implementing a remote "kill switch" was installed increasingly often in rent-to-buy laptops and cars financed by subprime loans. In a 2012 case the Federal Trade Commission settled with seven computer rental companies over their use of DesignerWare's
03 May 2016
In 2012, London Royal Free, Barnet, and Chase Farm hospitals agreed to provide Google's DeepMind subsidiary with access to an estimated 1.6 million NHS patient records, including full names and medical histories. The company claimed the information, which would remain encrypted so that employees
09 Jun 2016
A new breed of market research companies are pioneering geoanalytics to find complex financial information. That is, they use machine learning algorithms to search for patterns in high-resolution satellite imagery that's refreshed daily and available at the scale of 1 meter per pixel. Much of the
05 Apr 2016
In April 2016, Google's Nest subsidiary announced it would drop support for Revolv, a rival smart home start-up the company bought in 2014. After that, the company said, the thermostats would cease functioning entirely because they relied on connecting to a central server and had no local-only mode
A new examination of documents detailing the US National Security Agency's SKYNET programme shows that SKYNET carries out mass surveillance of Pakistan's mobile phone network and then uses a machine learning algorithm to score each of its 55 million users to rate their likelihood of being a