5 Tech Moguls Caught Misusing User Data

Data protection in real life is all about what you do like close doors and curtains while you get ready or visit a doctor. But when it comes to the digital space the idea of privacy is a bit twisted. Here, who you are AND what you do matters the most.

Who you are reveals personally identifiable information (PII) like Social Security number, name, phone number, date of birth, and more while the actions you perform online like visiting a website, online searches, articles you read, things you buy, etc. explains your liking.

All this information when combined becomes very valuable due to which companies leave no stone unturned to get this data.

Of course, regulations over data protection and data privacy like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have been executed but it’s pointless if companies are still stealing data.

How Tech Moguls Misuse User Data?

Each tech company has its own reason and purpose to access or save user data. Some claim it’s to improve user experience while some say it’s important for product functioning. Whatever the reason, companies surely want to hold on to your data.

Then there are companies that offer data protection and privacy as product features, just to take advantage of user paranoia over data protection. If you think these companies would never misuse your data then you are wrong.

Example of misleading users

Apple, the company that has always taken a stance in favour of user privacy and showcased privacy-focused features, settings. Starting from iOS 8 to date i.e. iOS 13 the company advocated user privacy and says all the contents on their devices are encrypted. This means no one except the user can access it.

In short instead of harvesting data Apple focuses on developing high-end consumer electronics. That said, then why does Apple use Google as a default search engine that is known to harvest user data?

Not only this, Facebook and Cambridge Analytica Scandal is another example of data misuse.

Everyone wants to make money, be it the company or its employees. Uber “God View” is another shocking example.

If you too are creeped out after reading this, you need to know how big names take advantage and misuse data.

5 Tech Giants Caught Misusing User Data

1. Avast

Avast_Jumpshot data breach

Avast, a well-known company that makes free antivirus software is allegedly selling highly sensitive web browsing data via a subsidiary company called Jumpshot. The software is said to track users’ clicks and movements across the web to collect data on things like Google search, Google Maps, LinkedIn Page, YouTube videos, and even porn sites. All this was brought to light by an investigation published by Motherboard and PCMag.

Jumpshot repackages the data collected by the Avast antivirus program into various products sold to companies across the world. The said data is collected from users that opt-in and it includes information like Device ID, Date, Time Spend in Hour Minute Second, Domain, Product and User Behavior. Although username or IP address is not collected this doesn’t mean you are safe.

If the said data is shared by Amazon.com and the domain user visited is the same then the company using all the details very well knows about the user.

2. Uber

Uber data breach

One of the best ways to hail a cab around the world has also been plagued by its misuse of user data. Despite Uber’s assurance that it couldn’t access user data, it turns out that the truth wasn’t represented accurately. Back in 2014 Uber was in the news for failing to protect sensitive user data. A few of its employees used God View software to track real-time locations of passengers including Ex-girlfriends, celebrities, politicians, etc. Resulting in helping stalk people.

This isn’t the only concern, even drivers’ Social Security number is also accessible to all Uber employees. The only thing apparently safe is credit card information

3. Verizon

verizon data breach

The moment we hear ‘cookies’ we start to drool however the ‘cookies’ that we are talking here, will dry up your throat!

Marketers use web cookies to track your online activity, the good thing about normal cookies is you can delete them. But companies like Verizon don’t like this hence they created supercookie to track customer browsing history. Supercookies allow websites to better target ads to visitors with Verizon cellphone service and clearing them from the web browsers isn’t easy. This means Verizon was able to know about you until one day the company had to pay a fine of $1.35 million to FCC.



Visual Guide on How Supercookies work.

4. Yahoo

yahoo data breach

After hearing about the largest data breach in history that exposed over 500 million users leading to take over of Yahoo. We thought nothing could be worse. But then came to light Marissa Mayer’s actions. When Yahoo was getting hacked CEO was scanning customer emails and handing the data to NSA. What will you call it?

5. AT&T

AT&T data breach

This well-known telecommunication company under federal law is bound to secure sensitive customer information but has failed to do so. It has been found selling access to their customer’s location data due to which a bounty hunter can easily track the exact phone location.

AT&T spokesperson said in a statement. “Location-based services like roadside assistance, fraud protection, and medical device alerts have clear and even life-saving benefits. We only share location data with customer consent. We stopped sharing location data with aggregators after reports of misuse.”

Being Vigilant is the Best Policy

We cannot blame companies for misusing data. Since they know they can get data by luring you then how can they resist the urge to take advantage. If you want to deal with such situations read all about what you accept. If you are unsure don’t move forward. Most importantly, never trust anyone online.

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