Privacy handling in context dissemination
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Pervasive environments are characterized by ubiquitous, mobile and embedded computing devices and wireless networking. The vision is an environment where the technology resides in the background ready to be used when it is needed. An essential part of such environments is context aware applications and context information. A context aware system exploits context information to provide relevant services or information to an entity, where relevancy depends on the entity s task. As a user, the employment of such systems involves revealing a lot of personal data. Context information can divulge a lot of sensitive information which represents a threat to a person s privacy. This master thesis looks into privacy handling in pervasive computing environments. The object is to propose a solution on how a user can control the extent of access to his or her context information. In order to identify the most important privacy concerns in the implementation of a context management system, privacy principles are looked into and privacy challenges in consequence of pervasive computing are evaluated. The different strategies for handling privacy are pointed out, such as legislation, self-regulation and technology. Among these, technology is further looked into, first through an evaluation of existing solutions and research projects, then through design an implementation of a possible solution. The principles which are identified to be most important to handle are a user s awareness of data collection and the possibility to restrict this collection. In addition it is pointed out the importance of making the system convenient to use. The heterogeneity of different users privacy preferences implies that some kind of personalization of the system should be present. A design and an implementation are presented which propose a solution where a user can constrain the access to his or her personal data, based on other users identities, his or her present situation and the type of context information the other users want to receive. The system also includes functionality to abstract details away from the context information which is disseminated to other system users/entities.