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 Feb 2016
A 2016 study from the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation found that in 95% of cases it takes as few as four of the apps users have installed on their smartphones to reidentify them within a dataset. Based on a study of 54,893 Android users over seven months, the
03 Mar 2016
In 2016, a group of criminologists intend on identifying the famous graffiti artist Banksy used a forensic technique known as geographical profiling. The technique is more commonly used to identify potential suspects in cases of serial rape, arson, and murder, and works by mapping crimes to see if
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
08 Mar 2016
In 2016 the Dutch Data Protection Authority (AP) ruled that the Personal Data Protection Act prohibits companies from monitoring their employees' health via wearables, even when employees have given their permission. The ruling concluded the AP's investigation into two companies; in one of them
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
11 Mar 2016
In 2016 Jonathan Evans, the former head of Britain's MI5 warned that private firms are analysing "open source" - that is, publicly posted - information to create profiles that are just as intrusive as anything Britain's intelligence agencies deploy and that the gap is closing between open
15 Mar 2016
In 2016, when security expert Matthew Garrett stayed in a London hotel where the light switches had been replaced by Android tablets, it took him only a few hours to gain access to all of the room's electronics. The steps he followed: plug his laptop into a link in place of one of the tablets; set
21 Mar 2016
By 2016, numerous examples had surfaced of bias in facial recognition systems that meant they failed to recognise non-white faces, labelled non-white people as "gorillas", "animals", or "apes" (Google, Flickr), told Asian users their eyes were closed when taking photographs (Nikon), or tracked white
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
02 Apr 2016
In early 2016 Libreville, the capital of Gabon, signed up for Microsoft's CityNext programme, which is intended to supply innovative "smart city" solutions in eight key areas: health, social services, infrastructure, water, electricity, justice, culture, and education. Applications in each area will
03 Apr 2016
At the 2016 Usenix conference, MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) presented a system called Chronos that could use wifi signals to detect the position of a person or object inside a room to within tens of centimetres. MIT claimed Chronos was 20 times more accurate
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
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
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
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
16 Apr 2016
In 2016, 21-year-old Russian photographer Egor Tsvetkov launched the "Your Face is Big Data" project. He created the project by semi-secretly photographing passengers seated across from him on the St. Petersburg metro, then uploading the images to an online service called FindFace. FindFace's
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
24 Apr 2016
As part of its Smart Nation programme, in 2016 Singapore launched the most extensive collection of data on everyday living ever attempted in a city. The programme involved deploying myriad sensors and cameras across the city-state to comprehensively monitor people, places, and things, including all
01 May 2016
In 2016, Oracle, long known as an enterprise software company, acquired the audience tracking company AddThis as part of expanding its business into marketing technology. AddThis places buttons on web pages to enable visitors to share stories or follow accounts on social media sites such as Facebook
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