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From a software architecture perspective, Context Fabric provides an extendable suite of operators that application developers and end-users can use for managing privacy

An architecture for privacy-sensitive ubiquitous computing

An architecture for privacy-sensitive ubiquitous computing, pp.177-189, (2005)

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Abstract

Privacy is the most often-cited criticism of ubiquitous computing, and may be the greatest barrier to its long-term success. However, developers currently have little support in designing software architectures and in creating interactions that are effective in helping end-users manage their privacy. To address this problem, we present Co...More

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Introduction
  • Westin defined information privacy as “the claim of individuals, groups or institutions to determine for themselves when, how, and to what extent information about them is communicated to others” [65].
  • [59, 66]) describing people’s concerns about the strong potential for abuse, unease over a potential lack of control, and general desire for privacy-sensitive ubicomp systems
  • These concerns suggest that privacy may be the greatest barrier to the long-term success of ubiquitous computing.
  • It is important to note here that the parties that are receiving such information already know one’s identity, are not adversaries in the traditional sense, and that the privacy risks may be as simple as wanting to avoid undesired social obligations or potentially embarrassing situations
Highlights
  • Westin defined information privacy as “the claim of individuals, groups or institutions to determine for themselves when, how, and to what extent information about them is communicated to others” [65]
  • We presented an extensive analysis of end-user needs and application developer needs for privacy-sensitive systems
  • The end-user needs were gathered through scenario-based interviews we did on location-enhanced applications, and on an analysis of surveys, research papers, message boards, proposed and existing privacy protection laws, and design guidelines for privacysensitive systems
  • From a software architecture perspective, Context Fabric provides an extendable suite of operators that application developers and end-users can use for managing privacy
  • From an end-user perspective, Context Fabric facilitates the creation of three basic interaction patterns for privacy-sensitive applications: optimistic, applications where the default is to share personal information and detect abuses; pessimistic, applications where it is more important to prevent abuses; and mixed-initiative, where decisions to share information are made interactively by end-users
  • We described how Context Fabric could be used to support the implementation of two privacy-sensitive applications
Methods
  • Each infospace supports two general kinds of methods, in and out.
  • In-methods affect what data is stored within an infospace, and include add and remove.
  • Operators can be added to an existing infospace to extend and customize it to what is needed.
  • Confab supports three different kinds of operators: in, on, and out.
  • An example in-operator is one that checks the infospace’s access control policies to make sure that this is a tuple that is allowed to be added.
Results
  • The authors describe the implementation of applications the authors have built on top of Confab.
  • Using Confab, the authors have built a custom instant messenger client named Lemming that provides Find Friends features.
  • Location information is stored on an infospace running locally on each person’s computer.
  • Lemming can be used to send location requests to other end-users running Lemming.
  • The receiver gets a notification, letting them specify simple rules of what information each group should see, such as allowing the requestor to see location information only during regular work hours.
  • It uses the Hamsam library to connect across different instant messenging systems
Conclusion
  • The authors presented an extensive analysis of end-user needs and application developer needs for privacy-sensitive systems.
  • The application developer needs were gathered through an analysis of research and commercial ubicomp applications
  • These needs led to the high-level requirements of (1) a decentralized architecture, (2) control and feedback mechanisms for building pessimistic, optimistic, and mixed-initiative applications, (3) plausible deniability, and (4) exceptions for emergencies.
  • The authors described how Confab could be used to support the implementation of two privacy-sensitive applications
Tables
  • Table1: Summary of end-user requirements
  • Table2: Summary of developer requirements
  • Table3: Confab supports different kinds of context data
  • Table4: Confab provides several operators by default
Download tables as Excel
Related work
  • There has also been a great deal of work at providing programming support for various aspects of ubiquitous context-aware computing. This includes the PARCTab system [57], Cooltown [41], the Context Toolkit [19], Contextors [16], Limbo [18], Sentient Computing [5], Stick-E notes [52], MUSE [14], SpeakEasy [22], Solar [15], XWeb [49], GAIA [56], one.world [29], and iRoom [39]. Confab shares many characteristics with much of this work, and builds on it by focusing the architecture on privacy and on providing flexible mechanisms for privacy protection.

    Confab is closest in terms of data model and programming model to the PARCTab system [57] and iRoom [39]. In many ways, Confab’s data model can be thought of as a logical evolution of the PARCTab’s Dynamic Environments. Dynamic Environments were centralized data stores associated with relatively large places, such as buildings. Each Dynamic Environment contained personal information about each people, places, and things within its purview. As people moved from place to place, they would also switch which Dynamic Environment they were using. The key differences Confab makes are greater decentralization of data, a greater range of mechanisms for privacy in both the data model and in the programming model, and compartmentalized extensibility thru operators. These mechanisms support the development of optimistic and mixed-initiative interfaces.
Funding
  • This work has been supported by NSF (IIS-0205644), DARPA (N66001-99-2-8913), an Intel fellowship, a Siebel Scholar fellowship, and PARC
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