Blinding Curiosity: Supporting User Preferences and Privacy Within Workplace Awareness Applicastions

Posted in Security, Companies, Conferences on May 17, 2012



Google Tech Talk (more below)
November 2, 2010

Presented by Eleanor Rieffel and Jacob Biehl, FXPal Labs.

ABSTRACT

Awareness systems are an emerging class of technologies that enhance communication and connections between people in both business and social settings. MyUnity, a prototype awareness platform designed and developed at FXPAL for use in the workplace collects a myriad of data from a variety of sensors and sources, fuses the data into descriptive, easy to understand presence states, and presents this information to users in a novel interface available to users on their desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. The platform has been in continuous use within FXPAL for more than a year.

Important to MyUnity's adoption is its ability to allow users to control how data about them is collected and stored. To avoid concerns about misuse, initially the system did not store any data. Researchers developing the system were interested, however, in analyzing usage patterns, and users expressed interest in seeing personal trends, activity patterns of coworkers, and long-term data pooled across groups of users, all requiring data to be stored. At the same time, users continued to be concerned about misuse of stored data.
In this talk, we highlight our approach to providing varying levels of access to historical data while respecting user concerns about stored data. We developed a security mechanism that enables MyUnity to provide "need to know" security in which each individual has full access to her own historical data, third parties store and process the data without learning anything about the data values, and other parties obtain only statistics aggregated over multiple users. "Need to know" security has applications in other areas such as medicine and public health, user studies, and polling.

About the Speakers:

Eleanor Rieffel and Jacob Biehl are both researchers at FX Palo Alto Laboratory, an advanced research laboratory in Silicon Valley specializing in interactive media and distribution collaboration.

Eleanor G. Rieffel's current research focuses on security and privacy and methods for creating virtual models from physical scenes. Her past research has been in fields as diverse as bioinformatics, evolutionary computation, modular robot control, and quantum computation. She holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from UCLA.

Jacob Biehl's research interests span many dimensions of computer-supported cooperative work, from developing high-level theories of group dynamics to building systems that support basic principles of synchronized group work. He holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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