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.

 

03 May 2016
By 2020, digital ad spending on political campaigns, which was about $22 million in 2008, is projected to reach $3.3 billion. Broadcast audiences in 2016 were about a quarter the size they were in the 1980s, and they are continuing to shrink, while half of US broadcast radio stations are expected to
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
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
12 May 2016
In 2016, Acxiom announced a deal with the media delivery company Valassis, a subsidiary of Harland Clarke Holdings Corp, intended to provide marketers with better post-campaign analytics. The linkage of the two companies was intended to "provide an integrated view of a consumer's purchase behaviour"
12 May 2016
In 2016, Danish researchers Emil Kirkegaard and Julius Daugbjerg Bjerrekær released a dataset onto the Open Science Framework that included details of almost 70,000 users of the online dating site OkCupid. The researchers created the dataset themselves by using software to scrape information from
17 May 2016
FindFace compares photos to profile pictures on social network Vkontakte and works out identities with 70% reliability. Some have sounded the alarm about the potentially disturbing implications. Already the app has been used by a St Petersburg photographer to snap and identify people on the city’s
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
20 May 2016
In 2016, Nguyen Phong Hoang, a security researcher in Kyoto, Japan demonstrated that the location of users of gay dating apps such as Grindr, Hornet, and Jack'd can be pinpointed even when they have turned on features intended to obscure it - a dangerous problem for those have not come out publicly
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
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
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
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
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
02 Jun 2016
The discovery in 2016 of previous hacker break-ins such as the 2013 theft of 360 million old MySpace accounts and the 2012 hack of LinkedIn suggest that although websites come and go and "linkrot" means web pages have a short half-life, user data lives on for a deceptively long time. This is
06 Jun 2016
In 2016, security expert Ken Munro discovered security bugs in the onboard wifi in Mitsubishi's Outlander hybrid car that could be exploited to turn off the car's alarm. Some aspects of the Outlander can be controlled by a smartphone app that talks to the car via the onboard wifi. Security flaws in
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
10 Jun 2016
In June 2016, National Security Agency deputy director Richard Ledgett told a conference on military technology conference that the agency was researching whether internet-connected biomedical devices such as pacemakers could be used to collect foreign intelligence. Ledgett identified the complexity
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
21 Jun 2016
In 2015, the DNA testing company 23andMe revealed it had sold access to the DNA information it had collected from the 1.2 million people who had paid for genetic testing to more than 13 drug companies. One of these was Genentech, which paid $10 million to look at the genes of people with Parkinson's
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