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Cloaking with Footprints: A Novel Technique for Location Privacy Protection in Location-Based Services
Category(s):
For Information, Contact:
Jay Bjerke
Commercialization Manager, Engineering
515-294-4740
licensing@iastate.edu
Web Published:
5/7/2015
ISURF #
3620
Summary:
Researchers at Iowa State University have developed a novel method for location privacy protection so that location information cannot be directly linked to a particular individual through location-based services.

Development Stage:
A prototype is available for testing, and ISU is seeking partners interested in commercializing this technology

Description:
Location-based services (LBS) require location information from clients.  However, a person’s whereabouts may reveal sensitive private information, such as health condition or political affiliation.  Moreover, location information may make a person physically vulnerable, for example, to a personal threat.  Potential solutions for location privacy protection, such as using a pseudonym in requesting LBSs, does not protect a user’s anonymity because the location information itself may reveal that person’s real-world identity.  To overcome this challenge, ISU researchers have developed a novel cloaking technique for location privacy protection.  This technique uses a footprint—a user's location sample collected at some time point—to depersonalize a user’s location based on their historical location information and cloaking algorithms.  In addition, while the sizes of cloaking boxes produced by the existing approaches are highly dependent on the network density, footprint cloaking enables computation of a minimized cloaking area.  The existing techniques require all mobile users to report current location information; in contrast, this approach only requires the user who requests LBSs to provide location updates.  This eliminates server processing requirements and network loading.  This approach also enables depersonalization of a user’s trajectory as opposed to currently used methods since a time-series sequence of cloaking boxes forms a trajectory that may reveal the real identity of the user if, for example, it links to the user's home and office.  As a result, footprint cloaking is more practical, scalable and can be used with both sporadic and continuous LBSs.

Advantage:
• Versatile (can be used with both sporadic and continuous LBSs)
• Robust (enables fine cloaking resolution)
• Economical (performance studies have shown lower computation and communications costs
Application:
Location privacy protection

References:
Patent Information:
*To see the full version of the patent(s), follow the link below, then click on "Images" button.
Country Serial No. Patent No. Issued Date
United States 12/555,456 8,856,939* 10/7/2014
United States 14/472,462 9,239,935* 1/19/2016
United States 14/976,109 9,736,685* 8/15/2017


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