Privacy Preservation in Context-Aware Systems
April 27, 2011
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Recent years have seen a confluence of two major trends – the increase of mobile devices such as smart phones as the primary access point to networked information and the rise of social media platforms that connect people. Their convergence supports the emergence of a new class of context-aware geosocial networking applications. While existing systems focus mostly on location, our work centers on models for representing and reasoning about a more inclusive and higher-level notion of context, including the user’s location and surroundings, the presence of other people and devices, feeds from social networking systems they use, and the inferred activities in which they are engaged. A key element of our work is the use of collaborative information sharing where devices share and integrate knowledge about their context. This introduces the need for privacy and security mechanisms. We present a framework to provide users with appropriate levels of privacy to protect the personal information their mobile devices are collecting including the inferences that can be drawn from the information. We use Semantic Web technologies to specify high-level, declarative policies that describe user’s information sharing preferences. We have built a prototype system that aggregates information from a variety of sensors on the phone, online sources, and sources internal to the campus intranet, and infers the dynamic user context. We show how our policy framework can be effectively used to devise better privacy control mechanisms to control information flow between users in such dynamic mobile systems.