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.

 

13 Oct 2015
In 2015, a data leak apparently linked to the new Uber partner app exposed the personal information of hundreds of drivers, including their Social Security numbers, scanned drivers' licences, tax forms, and other documents. The information was likely to have been available for at least a few hours
20 Oct 2015
For low-income Americans to receive public benefits they are legally entitled to, they must submit to widespread monitoring of their intimate and personal affairs. This monitoring includes sharing a trove of personal documents and information, unannounced home visits from caseworkers, mandatory face
30 Oct 2015
In 2015, plans to install smart electricity meters in 95% of Austrian homes by 2019 were in doubt because of legal uncertainty about data protection, with customers trying to prevent their deployment, according to Die Presse newspaper. The idea is that smart meters will allow customers to log on and
05 Nov 2015
In 2015, Quantcast CEO Konrad Feldman explained his purpose in starting up the company in 2006: "to manufacture data to make advertising more relevant for consumers". By 2015, as display advertising on the web was beginning to use the targeting techniques previously preserved for search advertising
16 Nov 2015
In 2015, Oracle rolled out "Validated Demographics", a service based on combining the capabilities it acquired with BlueKai, a data management platform that gathers data from publishers, and Datalogix, a tool that compiles offline demographic data. The combination of these complementary services
24 Nov 2015
Documents submitted as part of a 2015 US National Labor Relations Board investigation show that Walmart, long known to be hostile to unions, spied on and retaliated against a group of employees who sought higher wages, more full-time jobs, and predictable schedules. In combating the group, who
24 Nov 2015
In 2015, ABI Research discovered that the power light on the front of Alphabet's Nest Cam was deceptive: even when users had used the associated app to power down the camera and the power light went off, the device continued to monitor its surroundings, noting sound, movement, and other activities
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
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
11 Dec 2015
In what proved to be the first of several years of scandals over the use of personal data in illegal, anti-democratic campaigning, in 2015 the Guardian discovered that Ted Cruz's campaign for the US presidency paid at least $750,000 that year to use tens of millions of profiles of Facebook users
15 Dec 2015
In 2015, Oracle and the US Federal Trade Commission settled charges that Oracle had compromised users' security by failing to remove older versions of Java SE from their computers when the software was updated. The software was installed on more than 850 million computers as of August 2014; Oracle
25 Dec 2015
In 2015, the Royal Parks conducted a covert study of visitors to London's Hyde Park using anonymised mobile phone signals provided by the network operator EE to analyse footfall. During the study, which was conducted via government-funded Future Cities Catapult, the Royal Parks also had access to
01 Jan 2016
In 2013, Oracle spent $1.5 billion to acquire the cross-channel marketer Responsys in a move analysts saw as an effort to compete with Salesforce, and also Adobe Systems. The acquisition was the beginning of a push into marketing that continued through 2015. Oracle, better known for enterprise
04 Jan 2016
In 2016, the US's third-largest property and casualty insurer, Liberty Mutual, announced it would partner with Subaru to enable drivers who have bought Subaru's Starlink infotainment system to download a car app that will notify them if they are accelerating too aggressively or braking too hard. The
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
12 Jan 2016
In 2016 reports surfaced that bricks-and-mortar retailers were beginning to adopt physical-world analogues to the tracking techniques long used by their online counterparts. In a report, Computer Sciences Corporation claimed that about 30% of retailers were tracking customers in-store via facial
30 Jan 2016
By 2016, a logical direction for data-driven personalisation efforts to go was toward the "Internet of Emotions": equipping devices with facial, vocal, and biometric sensors that use affective computing to analyse and influence the feelings of device owners. Of particular concern is the potential
01 Feb 2016
French website IVG.net, first Google result when typing IVG (Interuption Volontaire de Grossesse or abortion in french), has been exposed as being anti-abortion website spreading misinformation. Offering an official looking "Numero vert" (free to call phone number number), IVG.net attempts to
01 Feb 2016
In 2015, Norwegian telephone company Telenor announced it was acquiring Tapad, a five-year-old New York-based advertising startup for $360 million. Tapad focuses on cross-device "retargeting"; that is, it claims to track billions o dfata points across mobile devices, PCs, TV, and watches, and, going
12 Feb 2016
Caucuses, which are used in some US states as a method of voting in presidential primaries, rely on voters indicating their support for a particulate candidate by travelling to the caucus location. In a 2016 Marketplace radio interview, Tom Phillips, the CEO of Dstillery, a big data intelligence