Privacy-Enhancing Technologies for Mobile Applications
Recently, social-networking applications have started to appear on mobile phones. These applications can exploit a phone's positioning capabilities to facilitate interaction between people. From a privacy point of view, this trend is troublesome because it often results in the provider of a social-networking application having real-time access to users' location. In turn, a user's location could reveal information about her activities or interests to the provider. I will outline two solutions that protect a user's location privacy. The first solution allows a user to become aware of a friend who happens to be nearby without the friend and the user being able to track each other continuously and without a centralized party being able to track either of them. The second solution allows a user to access a location-based service (e.g., a service that provides a listing of points of interest close to the user) such that the server cannot distinguish between the user issuing the query and other nearby users. Both of the presented solutions are based on cryptography and have been implemented and evaluated. The prototype implementation of our privacy-protecting application for alerting people of nearby friends is available at http://crysp.uwaterloo.ca/software/nearbyfriend.
Urs Hengartner is an assistant professor in the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo, Canada. His research interests are in information privacy and in computer and networks security. His current research goals are to increase the security of emerging computing environments, such as pervasive computing, location-based services, and electronic voting, and to design privacy-enhancing technologies for people who want to benefit from these environments. He has a degree in computer science from ETH Zurich and an M.S. and Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie Mellon.
Presented by Urs Hengartner
Google Tech Talk
April 30, 2009