Privacy Implications and Protection in the New Ubiquitous Web Environment

Privacy Implications and Protection in the New Ubiquitous Web Environment

Charalampos Z. Patrikakis (National Technical University of Athens, Greece), Ioannis G. Nikolakopoulos (National Technical University of Athens, Greece National Technical University of Athens, Greece) and Athanasios Voulodimos (University of West Attica, Athens, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-384-5.ch050
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In this chapter, we are addressing the issue of privacy in our modern world of Internet, Web 2.0, personalization, location based services, and ubiquitous computing. The issue is initially viewed from the perspective of user profiles, starting from existing approaches used in social networking and mobile computing applications. Emphasis is given on the separation of personal and public information and the way it can be used in Web and mobile applications. Furthermore, identifying the importance and the actual meaning of privacy in an online world is a crucial and difficult task, which has to be carried out before trying to propose ways to protect the users’ privacy.
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The Need For A Formal Definition Of User Profiles

There are two questions raised here. The first one is: Can social networking applications offer added value to enterprises and individuals? In other words, can they help you do your job better, or be more effective at a corporate level? To do this, social networking applications should be able to effectively combine personal information and matching rules, so as to offer solutions to collaboration problems and task solving. This can be either performed within the scope of a specialized application, that implements the necessary framework for a specific task (meeting people for dating), or through the combination of different social networking applications that share data in order to provide the specific set of personal information that could be processed by a mashup. The second question is: Can the processing of personal user information support the provision of enhanced, customized services, without risking a person’s privacy (e.g. could I have personalized answers about nearby cinemas, without fearing that my film choices will be used by spammers to fill my mailbox with new film adds)? Here again, the use of a standardized way to describe a user’s profile, and the level of personal information exchange between the different repositories where this information is located is essential.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Context Aware Service: A mobile or web service whose specific characteristics vary automatically according to the identity of the user and/or the context in which the service is provided (e.g. location based services)

Privacy: The ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively – the “right to be left alone”.

Social Networking Applications: Applications aiming at building online communities of people who share interests and activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. Most social network applications are web based and provide a variety of ways for users to interact, such as e-mail and instant messaging.

User Profile: A record of a user’s personal information containing every attribute that specifies the characteristics, abilities, needs, restrictions and in general any data that could be useful in a specific context such as service provision, application adaptation and environment setting.

Ubiquitous Computing (Ubicomp): Post-desktop model of human-computer interaction in which information processing has been thoroughly integrated into everyday objects and activities. As opposed to the desktop paradigm, in which a single user consciously engages a single device for a specialized purpose, someone “using” ubiquitous computing engages many computational devices and systems simultaneously, in the course of ordinary activities, and may not necessarily even be aware that they are doing so.

Personalization: Tailoring/customizing a specific service, application or medium to a user based on his/her personal interests, preferences, characteristics, habits

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