Keeping ubiquitous computing to yourself: a practical model for user control of privacy

Price, Blaine A.; Adam, Karim and Nuseibeh, Bashar (2005). Keeping ubiquitous computing to yourself: a practical model for user control of privacy. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 63(1-2) pp. 228–253.




As with all the major advances in information and communication technology, ubiquitous computing (ubicomp) introduces new risks to individual privacy. Our analysis of privacy protection in ubicomp has identified four layers through which users must navigate: the regulatory regime they are currently in, the type of ubicomp service required, the type of data being disclosed, and their personal privacy policy. We illustrate and compare the protection afforded by regulation and by some major models for user control of privacy. We identify the shortcomings of each and propose a model which allows user control of privacy levels in a ubicomp environment. Our model balances the user's privacy preferences against the applicable privacy regulations and incorporates five types of user controlled 'noise' to protect location privacy by introducing ambiguities. We also incorporate an economics-based approach to assist users in balancing the trade-offs between giving up privacy and receiving ubicomp services. We conclude with a scenario and heuristic evaluation which suggests that regulation can have both positive and negative influences on privacy interfaces in ubicomp and that social translucence is an important heuristic for ubicomp privacy interface functionality.

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