Visible to the public Redesigning Mobile Privacy – Quantitative Approach


Today, many mobile applications access users' exact location data, that is, geographic coordinates latitude and longitude. This poses a threat to users' privacy. Usually the use of accurate location coordinates is not required for the purposes and functioning of the application. Additionally, most mobile phone users are unaware of location exposure and consequently do not know when and how location based applications access and use their location information.

To increase mobile phone users awareness of location data gathering, we have implemented an application to surface location information access. For example, our app explicitly shows to users when an application requests their location. Users can also view location access history on their own devices. This helps people to distinguish between useful and unnecessary access to their locations and use their applications more carefully.

We are also exploring client-based modeling for alternative location expressions, in lieu of the commonly used fine-grained coordinates. We hope to modify the granularity level of the location being provided to applications, to protect the users' location privacy. Instead of allowing applications to access raw coordinates, we can send just the building name or the area address to preserve finer details of users' location.

Our work advances Science of Security by quantifying location privacy concerns with trials run during participants' daily lives.

This work is supported by awards from the National Science Foundation.

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Redesigning Mobile Privacy – Quantitative Approach
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