Semantics-aware Obfuscation for Location Privacy

Maria Luisa Damiani
Claudio Silvestri
Elisa Bertino, Purdue University

Journal of Computing Science and Engineering, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 137-160, June 2008

Original Manuscript


The increasing availability of personal location data pushed by the widespread use of location-sensing technologies raises concerns with respect to the safeguard of location privacy. To address such concerns location privacy-preserving techniques are being investigated. An important area of application for such techniques is represented by Location Based Services(LBS). Many privacy-preserving techniques designed for LBS are based on the idea of forwarding to the LBS provider obfuscated locations, namely position information at low spatial resolution, in place of actual users’ positions. Obfuscation techniques are generally based on the use of geometric methods. In this paper, we argue that such methods can lead to the disclosure of sensitive location information and thus to privacy leaks. We thus propose a novel method which takes into account the semantic context in which users are located. The original contribution of the paper is the introduction of a comprehensive framework consistingof a semantic-aware obfuscation model, a novel algorithm for the generation of obfuscated spaces for which we report results from an experimental evaluation and a reference architecture.