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EFF whitepaper on location privacy

EFF whitepaper on location privacy

Tim Finin, 2:04pm 5 August 2009

The Electronic Frontier Foundation released a whitepaper, On Locational Privacy, and How to Avoid Losing it Forever, discussing problems and solutions involving location privacy. The report, written by Andrew Blumberg and Peter Eckersley, outlines how location information is being collected by devices and services and argues for solutions that maintain potential benefits without sacrificing personal privacy.

“There are nifty new location-based technologies like electronic road-toll tags and cell-phone apps that alert you when your friends are nearby — but these systems often create and store records of your movements,” said EFF Staff Technologist Peter Eckersley, one of the co-writers of the white paper. “This could make it possible for others to know when you visited a health clinic, what church or bar you spend time in, or who you go to lunch with. It is essential that privacy-protecting algorithms are built into these devices and services, so we can enjoy their convenience without making our private lives into open books.”

“The technical solution to preserving privacy in digital services lies in modern cryptography and careful design,” said Stanford University mathematician Andrew J. Blumberg, the white paper’s other co-writer. “It may seem counterintuitive, but using cryptography, these systems can function without collecting and storing personal data at all. The best way for systems to protect user data is not to collect it in the first place; then the information is not available for anyone to buy, steal, or obtain by subpoena — it would stay truly private.”


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