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A Key Distribution Scheme Preventing Collusion Attacks in Ubiquitous Heterogeneous Sensor Networks

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  M. Denko et al. (Eds.): EUC Workshops 2007, LNCS 4809, pp. 12–21, 2007. © IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2007 A Critical Approach to Privacy Research in Ubiquitous Environments – Issues and Underlying Assumptions Maria Karyda 1 , Stefanos Gritzalis 1 , and Jong Hyuk Park  2   1  Dept. of Information & Communication Systems Engineering, University of the Aegean, Greece {mka,sgritz} 2  School of Computer Engineering, Kyungnam University, Masan-si, Kyungnam-do, Korea Abstract.  This paper explores the different aspects of ubiquitous environments with regard to the protection of individuals’ private life. A critical review of the relative research reveals two major trends. First, that there is a shift in the perception of privacy protection, which is increasingly considered as a responsibility of the individual, instead of an individual right protected by a central authority, such as a state and its laws. Second, it appears that current IT research is largely based on the assumption that personal privacy is quantifiable and bargainable. This paper discusses the impact of these trends and underlines the issues and challenges that emerge. The paper stresses that, for the time being, IT research approaches privacy in ubiquitous environments without taking into account the different aspects and the basic principles of privacy. Finally the paper stresses the need for multidisciplinary research in the area, and the importance that IT research receives input from other related disciplines such as law and psychology. The aim of the paper is to contribute to the on-going discourse about the nature of privacy and its role in ubiquitous environments and provide insights for future research. Keywords: Ubiquitous Computing, Privacy Protection, Privacy Rights, Asymmetry of Power, Asymmetry of Information. 1 Introduction Ubiquitous Computing (UC) refers to environments where most physical objects are enhanced with digital qualities. It implies that small, often tiny-sized devices with computing capabilities which are wirelessly interconnected are embedded almost invisibly into most objects used in everyday life. These devices can be anything from a device that only allows identification or positioning of the user to a fully featured mobile device that is capable of intense interaction with the user. It has been suggested that security and privacy are among the major obstacles that do not allow the proliferation of ubiquitous applications. The concept of privacy is not new and can generally been defined as the individuals’ ability to control the terms by which their personal information is collected and used. It is also widely acceptable   A Critical Approach to Privacy Research in Ubiquitous Environments 13 that privacy protection it of critical importance both at the individual and at the society level. Although research on privacy in the area of ubiquitous computing expands in many different directions and covers various topics, privacy issues are still open and it appears that feasible and effective solutions are still quite far from being realized. A critical analysis of current research on privacy in ubiquitous environments reveals that we are witnessing a significant change: up to now, it was the role of the government to provide the framework for privacy protection, as part of their role in the development of a welfare state for their citizens [1]; however lately there is a tendency to shift privacy protection into the hands of the individuals and to provide them with privacy protection mechanisms and tools. IT industry and related research have adopted the approach that end-users need to control information disclosure. Another finding, stemming from the analysis of relevant research, is that privacy is viewed as a quantifiable attribute that can be negotiated and possibly exchanged by individuals in return for certain benefits. This paper examines these assumptions and explores their implications with regard to fair information practices. The aim of the paper is to contribute to the on-going discussion about privacy in the area of ubiquitous computing and to substantiate the importance of a multidisciplinary approach and the value of input from related fields. The rest of the paper is structured as follows: Section two presents an overview of the field, focusing on the particular characteristics of ubiquitous environments and the basic principles for privacy and data protection. Section three identifies the major streams of research in ubiquitous computing with regard to privacy and section four discusses the implications of the underlying assumptions that prevail in privacy research. Finally, section five presents our conclusions and provides suggestions for future research. 2 Background 2.1 Characteristics of Ubiquitous Environments A ubiquitous computing environment, also known as pervasive, is typically envisioned as a space populated with large number of invisible, collaborating computers, sensors and actuators interacting with user-held and/or user-worn devices. Ubiquitous environments comprise of hardware and software elements, as well as social or human elements since it is humans who receive services and interact with each other. Thus, ubiquitous environments span both the physical and the logical space. The physical space is the realm of the human staff, the devices and locations, whereas in the logical space actions are performed through the software.Up to now and by far, the vision of ubiquitous computing is mainly hardware-driven [2]. Research in software has also been active in the field, with research in smart agents and web services to prevail. The least researched into aspect of ubiquitous environments is the social one. The role of human principals in ubiquitous environments is primarily goal definition, preferences setting and strategies definition. An important attribute for ubiquitous applications is context awareness . Context is a broad concept and is used to describe the physical, geographical, digital and social  14 M. Karyda, S. Gritzalis, and J.H. Park surroundings of a smart device, as well as how it is being used be the user. In some cases, context may also include information on the biometrics of the user. Dey describes context as “.. any information that can be used to characterize situation ” and distinguishes among several types of context, the most important of which are location, identity, time and activity [3]. The author of [4] extends the concept of context, stating that it also means the history  of all of these parameters. Context-awareness, in general, refers to the ability of computing systems to identify and adapt to their environmental context. Another major characteristic of a ubiquitous environment is the dynamic nature of the use of services as well as the changes in the location. Furthermore, UC is characterized by the ability to learn from the past and to adapt services accordingly; thus computing systems are required to ‘remember’ and therefore store personal data [5]. 2.2 Privacy The right to privacy protection is considered critical for a democratic society and it is recognized as a fundamental right in all major international treaties and agreements on human rights [1]. Privacy has also been defined as the right “ to be left alone ” [6]. Generally, many different types of privacy have been identified, including bodily, territorial, communication and informational privacy. In a digital environment, privacy can be defined as the individuals’ ability to control the terms by which their personal information is collected and used. Under this perspective, privacy implies control over personal information. Privacy rights are recognized in relation to an identifiable individual. Up to now, the basic approaches that have been used to protect an individual’s privacy include the adoption of regulatory and technical means and their combination. Privacy protection regulations can take different forms: Within the European Union (EU), privacy is protected according to the general EU Directive 95/46/EC on personal data protection. This Directive and its amendments regulate the collection, use and transfer of personal data, the rights data subjects can exercise and the obligations data controllers have. Compliance is monitored by independent public supervisory authorities. The United States has a different approach to personal privacy protection: Sector-specific laws are applied, each regulating a specific aspect, for instance, communications privacy, financial privacy etc. In most countries, independently of the type of the existing regulation of privacy, personal data protection is also pursued through self regulation. The EU Directive, for example, introduces the concept of “codes of conduct” that should be followed by organizations and trade associations. Other types of self regulation include use of standards, such as privacy enhancing technologies (PETs), and privacy seals, which are used by web sites to inform their visitors that their data will be treated according to certain data protection principles, as certified by the trust mark organization. Approaches to support privacy protection through the use of technical means primarily involve the use of some type of PETs [6]. The basic and most commonly accepted principles for respecting an individual’s privacy include the elements of necessity ,  finality , transparency and  proportionality .   A Critical Approach to Privacy Research in Ubiquitous Environments 15  Necessity  refers to the identification of purposes and benefits for identifying, or using personal information and also involves the considerations of possible alternatives. The principle of  finality  refers to the collection and use of personal data for specific and explicit purposes, which must be legitimate. The principle of transparency  states that individuals should be aware of these purposes, as well as of the means used for the collection of their personal information; thus they should be notified. In some cases it is also supported that individuals should be able to choose  (principle of choice) and give their consent   (principle of consent) to the collection and use of their personal information. Finally,  proportionality refers to the accordance between the types and extend of personal data that is collected and used with regard to the pursued objectives. In other words, personal data collected should be relevant and appropriate with the aims of the UC system. It should be noted that the concept of privacy is culture dependent and no universal agreement as to its content exists; however, among these privacy principles, necessity  is the one that is the most generally accepted. The paradigm of fair information practices, which is a regulatory paradigm defining how personal information should be collected and treated, includes notice  of users, choice  over how their personal information is used, the right to   access collected information, reasonable security  of the information and accountability  of the collector’s side [7]. The author of [8] proposes the following set of principles for guiding privacy-aware ubiquitous system design: (a) Notice: users should always be aware of what data is being collected; (b). Choice and Consent: users should be able to choose whether their personal data is used; (c) Anonymity and pseudonymity should apply when identity is not needed; (d) Security: different amounts of protection depending on the situation; and (e) Access and recourse: users should have access to data about them. 2.3 Privacy in Ubiquitous Environments Ubiquitous computing is populated both by privacy enhancing technologies and privacy decreasing technologies. Privacy enhancing technologies, mainly based on encryption and anonymization techniques, allow prevention or reduction of identification. Sensors and RFID technology are prominent examples of the latter; for instance RFID tags embedded in badges, clothing or other objects can provide information on a person’s movements and whereabouts. Ubiquitous sensor networks, combined with robust data mining techniques and the decreasing cost of information storage amplify the tracking and profiling capabilities of personal information collectors, thus augmenting privacy intrusion capabilities. As smart devices increasingly pervade public as well as private places, it is expected that individuals will implicitly create continuous streams of personal related information regarding their actions, preferences and locations. Currently, major threats to privacy srcinate from personal data aggregation and the increasing strength and capacity of search engines. The amplitude of information sources and the potential to aggregate or combine these sources so as to create a person’s profile are threatening individual privacy.  16 M. Karyda, S. Gritzalis, and J.H. Park Action Device LocationPerson Fig. 1.  The privacy diamond [9] The privacy diamond shows [9], as depicted in Figure 1, that in ubiquitous environments (smart) devices operate between the individual and the information system or service provider. For this type of interaction to be realized some sort of identification is needed. Distinction should be made between devices that enable user request services from the system and devices that function automatically. Data collected are mainly personal data, or they can be easily transformed into personal data. This personal information gathered typically includes data with regard to the identity, location and activity of a person. In some cases, the device placed between the user and the information system or service provider can also be used to provide anonymous or pseudonymous access. However, it is the individuals who consciously request, or unconsciously launch, the collection of their personal data to receive services. It should also be noted that authentication between the device and the user is critical. However, due mainly to technical limitations (e.g. low computing power or lack of interaction ability) ubiquitous devices often do not support any authentication scheme. In digital environments, deciding the level and type of required identification can be designed. However, in ubiquitous environments, the main question of how much identification is needed cannot be easily answered. The issue of whether, and which type of (personal) information is needed for the communication is not straightforward and depends on the situation. Generally, service providers depend on personal information to deliver personalized and location-based services. Thus, the everyday negotiation of privacy through interactive ubiquitous computing systems is considered an open issue. To further discuss and comprehend the issue of privacy in the context of ubiquitous computing, we need to identify the stakeholders involved. In the first place, individuals, whose personal data are continuously monitored, collected and manipulated, are the major interested parties with regard to privacy protection. Other involved stakeholders include: IT industry, which provides the technical infrastructure and the privacy enhancing and privacy degrading tools; Organizations, or generally service providers that exploit the capabilities provided by ubiquitous computing to deliver services to individuals; and Governments, legal and regulatory authorities that provide the framework for privacy protection. A major difficulty in the global digital environment where ubiquitous computing applications are realized is that the regulation approach based on legislation has very limited impact and thus limited effectiveness. Codes of conduct, on the other hand, present varying levels on effectiveness, based on the quality of their content, their
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