A Pennsylvania school district that used built-in Webcams to monitor the use of several thousand Apple laptops that it provided to students for their use at home ran afoul of online privacy issues and was forced to pay up. The school district admitted it had over 56,000 photos and screen grabs gathered by the Webcams and security software installed on the laptops. These photos were taken without the knowledge or consent of the students, including in their bedrooms and in various stages of undress. In April 2010, high school sophomore Blake Robbins filed a class action lawsuit against the Lower Merion School District for invasion of privacy. In October 2010, the school district agreed to pay $610,000 to settle two lawsuits related to the incident.
7. Facebook apps
The popular social media site has been plagued by privacy issues over the years. Its highest-profile problem was in October 2010, when Facebook admitted that its top 10 most popular applications including FarmVille and Texas Hold`em shared user data, including names and friends' names, with advertisers. A Wall Street Journal investigation uncovered the Facebook privacy breach and said it affected tens of millions of users, including some that had used Facebook's most stringent privacy settings. Facebook had previously been in trouble for transmitting user ID numbers to advertising companies when users clicked on ads. In November 2011, Facebook settled a case with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission about several incidents and agreed to 20 years of third-party privacy audits (Also see: 10 must-know Facebook privacy/security settings.)
8. Patient data exposed
In March 2011, California-based insurer HealthNet announced a privacy breach for nearly 2 million of its customers, exposing their names, addresses, Social Security numbers, health and financial data. The data were unencrypted and stored on hard drives that have gone missing from contractor IBM's data center. A nationwide class action suit was filed against HealthNet and IBM as a result of this incident. It was HealthNet's second big data breach in two years, having lost the Social Security numbers of 1.5 million policyholders stored on a hard drive in 2009. HealthNet isn't the only healthcare provider to lose private medical data or inadvertently post it online. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says personal medical data for more than 11 million people have been exposed online in the last two years.