Privacy, Location and Innovation

This entry in a Location-Based technology blog, relates to modifying data in a way that enables its public use while preserving privacy. [scan this entry to follow below]

This led to two comments by Bern Grush and Fosca Giannotti, respectively:

Location privacy re GPS tracking will be the single most critical issue for Time-Distance-Place (TDP) road-pricing (called VMT charging here in US and specifically called for in the new report from the [US] National Commission on Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing.) The problem for that application and at least some solutions that address it are similar to Wood's view and solution. We patented something similar (NOT the same) in the recent past that allows us to "fuzzy-up" the entire journey to an arbitrary degree. BUT it was not filed under "privacy", rather as a method of non-line-of sight noise mitigation, trip descriptor reliability (for consistent charging) and compression. A year after it was granted we realized we also solved the privacy problem. I find that in addition to privacy (a concern I share with any person or motorist) and a knee-jerk response of "NO GPS" is that it stifles innovation WITHOUT providing real privacy. I wrote about this here. Bern Grush on 2009-01-09 12:18

The issue of Location Privacy is broadly studied within two major communities: Location Based Services and privacy preserving Data Mining. An extensive state of art may be found in the book: "Mobility, Data Mining and Privacy" edited by [Fosca Giannotti] and Dino Pedreschi. Such a book is one of the results of the European project GeoPKDD: other results are algorithms for anonymization of trajectories (trajectories are reconstructed by traces left behind for example by cellular phones). The idea of generalization is extensively used in anonymization. In this case what I see as critical the definition (and consequent labeling) of private and public as absolute concepts. Fosca Giannotti on 2009-01-09 16:53

The GeoPKDD site is a valuable resource for those concerned with Privacy and Innovation.

1 comment:

Marc said...

Dear Bern,

It is nice you’ve opened Privacy dilemma. Time and location privacy for many users will be the most critical issue before introducing “real free-flow” road pricing. Real free-flow means that every user should be equipped with adequate on-board equipment.

Among all possible ideas and solutions I still vote for “intelligent” on-board equipment which measure, collect, calculate and store all privacy critical data and sends to the control centre only condensed charging data on occasionally basis (daily, weekly, monthly…)
On other hands control centre has possibility to control correct functioning of the equipment on randomly basis, so call “anonymous self-testing”.

By this all privacy data will permanently stay under user’s possession but at the same time service provider will get confidence and all data needed for road pricing - aggregated charge data and to control traffic flows - vehicle category at self-testing points.

Regards, Miroslav Marc