Virtual walls: Protecting digital privacy in pervasive environments

Alm Kapadia, Tristan Henderson, Jeffrey J. Fielding, David Kotz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


As pervasive environments become more commonplace, the privacy of users is placed at increased risk. The numerous and diverse sensors in these environments can record users' contextual information, leading to users unwittingly leaving "digital footprints." Users must thus be allowed to control how their digital footprints are reported to third parties. While a significant amount of prior work has focused on location privacy, location is only one type of footprint, and we expect most users to be incapable of specifying fine-grained policies for a multitude of footprints. In this paper we present a policy language based on the metaphor of physical wall,, and posit that users will find this abstraction to be an intuitive way to control access to their digital footprints. For example, users understand the privacy implications of meeting in a room enclosed by physical walls. By allowing users to deploy "virtual walls," they can control the privacy of their digital footprints much in the same way they control their privacy in the physical world. We present a policy framework and model for virtual walls with three levels of transparency that correspond to intuitive levels of privacy, and the results of a user study that indicates that our model is easy to understand and use.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPervasive Computing 5th International Conference, PERVASIVE 2007, Toronto, Canada, May 13-16, 2007. Proceedings
EditorsA. LaMarca, M. Langheinrich, K. N. Truong
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)978-3-540-72036-2
Publication statusPublished - May 2007
Event5th International Conference on Pervasive Computing Univ Toronto, Toronto - , Canada
Duration: 13 May 200716 May 2007

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
ISSN (Print)0302-9743


Conference5th International Conference on Pervasive Computing Univ Toronto, Toronto


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