PALS - Privacy-Aware Location Sharing
Many consumers today willingly give up their current location information in exchange for location-based social services. This development poses great privacy risks. This project investigates novel methods that will provide such services without the need for centralized data collections. Online social networking platforms have seen a tremendous growth in recent years, with the most popular networks featuring more than 100 million registered users. At the same time, technological advances have rendered location-based services truly affordable, and mobile phone operators are increasingly rolling out location-enabled applications such as map services (route finding, place of interest) and location-enabled tools (e.g., call-a-cab). The intersection of social networking and location-based services is a natural consequence, offering users new levels of social awareness and opportunities to socialize and explore, while promising network operators new forms of revenue through increased service use. Existing concerns regarding the storage, processing, and dissemination of personal information in online social networks are greatly amplified by the increasing inclusion of detailed movement patterns. Customers may willingly grant operators almost unlimited use of the (seemingly worthless) movement patterns, in exchange for the tangible benefit of enhancing their online social network experience. This study aims at designing, implementing, and evaluating novel methods and tools to facilitate the privacy-aware sharing of location data with friends, strangers, and operators. Its goal is to offer a decentralized approach that supports all needed features of location sharing systems without the need to centrally collect location data. A decentralized yet efficient way to support the sharing of consumer location data without the need for central operators to collect such data will allow providers of such services to guarantee the privacy of their customers. It will simplify the compliance to existing privacy legislation and ultimately increase consumer trust in modern telecommunication services.