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.

 

Among the friends Facebook recommended to Kashmir Hill as people she might know was Rebecca Porter, to the best of her knowledge a total stranger. Because Hill was studying how the "black box" of Facebook recommendations worked, she contacted Porter to ask what the connection might be. To her
On August 1, 2017, Wisconsin company Three Square Market began offering its employees the option of implanting a tiny chip between their thumb and index finger. The chip enables employees to wave at hand at any of the company's RFID readers in order to enter the building, pay for food in the
The non-profit Resolve to Save Lives, led by Tom Frieden, director of the CDC in the Obama administration, finds that six months after the first coronavirus cases in the US most states are failing to report crucial information needed to track and control the spread of COVID-19. Among the issues
The accuracy of Facebook's ad targeting sometimes leads users to believe that Facebook is spying on them by tapping the microphones in their phones. Facebook has denied the practice - and is likely telling the truth because uploading and scanning the amount of audio data such a system would involve
In January 2019, the security researcher Justin Paine discovered that the California-based voice over IP provider Voipo had left exposed an unprotected database containing tens of gigabytes of call logs, other internal documents, and customer text messages, including password resets and two-factor
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
At his 2021 trial, prosecutors used previously-unseen infrared footage from FBI airplane surveillance at 9,000 feet to attempt to show that 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse chased one of the two people he later claimed to have shot in self-defence. Rittenhouse travelled from his home in Illinois to
Princeton University's WebTap - Web Transparency and Accountability - project conducts a monthly automated census of 1 million websites to measure tracking and privacy. The census detects and measures many or most of the known privacy violations researchers have found in the past: circumvention of
Privacy and child advocacy groups in the US, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, and the UK are filing complaints with regulators after a study by the Norwegian Consumer Council found critical security flaws and missing privacy protection in children's smartwatches. The watches
In February 2018 the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) signed a contract with Vigilant Solutions, giving it access to the company's giant database of billions of license plate records, which can be searched to produce every place a given license plate has been seen in the last five years
In 2015 Hong Kong's Face of Litter campaign used DNA samples taken from street litter and collected from volunteers to create facial images that were then posted on billboards across the city. The campaign, conceived by PR firm Ogilvy & Mather and organised by online magazine Ecozine and the Nature
An “intelligence note” found in a trove of law enforcement documents known as BlueLeaks shows that the US Department of Homeland Security fears that face masks are breaking law enforcement facial recognition. The note came from the post-9/11 Minnesota Fusion Center and was distributed on May 26
LinkNYC, a system of 1,000 public wifi kiosks across all five boroughs of New City administered by the private consortium CityBridge, offers free high-speed wifi, phone calls, a charging station for mobile devices, and a built-in tablet to access a variety of city services. Announced by the mayor's
In November 2018, a UK Gambling Commission audit found that the number of problem gamblers aged 11 to 16 had quadrupled to 55,000 over two years, 70,000 children were at risk, and 450,000, or one in seven, children aged 11 to 16 bet regularly, spending, on average, £16 a week on fruit machines
In 2017, when user Robert Martin posted a frustrated, disparaging review of the remote garage door opening kit Garadget on Amazon, the peeved owner briefly locked him out of the company's server and told him to send the kit back. After complaints on social media and from the company's board members
A remote-controlled yellow and black robot dog built by Boston Dynamics has been deployed in a Singapore central park for a two-week trial in which the dog politely, in a female voice, in English, reminds cyclists and joggers to stay at least one metre apart. Breaking the lockdown rules attracts
An investigation by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner has led Eir, a telecommunications company, to replace almost 20,000 modems supplied to customers with basic broadband packages without access to fibre services. The action follows an incident in 2016 in which nearly 2,000 customer routers
Car companies have long collected data about the consumers who buy their cars. Now, they hope to aggregate and sell customer preferences to outside vendors for marketing purposes much as online tech giants like Google and Facebook already do. The companies say that exploiting this data will help
When Google and Apple announced their joint platform for contact tracing, the companies said the system would not track users’ locations. By mid-July, the resulting apps had been downloaded more than 20 million times in companies such as Germany and Switzerland. However, in order for Bluetooth
In January 2018 the Cyberspace Administration of China summoned representatives of Ant Financial Services Group, a subsidiary of Alibaba, to rebuke them for automatically enrolling its 520 million users in its credit-scoring system. The main complaint was that people using Ant's Alipay service were