ALPACA: A Decentralized, Privacy-Centric and Context-Aware Framework for the Dissemination of Context Information


With the ongoing rise of smartphones as everyday mobile devices and their steadily increasing amount of sensing and communication capabilities, we are on the brink of a subtle, widespread adoption of context-aware computing techniques into our daily lives. Focusing on functionality and performance, the majority of existing architectures for managing context information typically deploy central components for collecting, analyzing and distributing its users’ up-to-date data. However, preservation of users’ privacy needs remains a crucial factor for such systems’ acceptableness. Inspired by existing works on privacy in context-aware applications and the authors’ beliefs in the necessity to put users back in control, this article adopts a privacy-centric perspective and presents ALPACA: A novel approach for modeling and managing a user’s rich context information in a user-centric and privacy-preserving way fit for a multitude of different usage scenarios. To this end, this article offers a general conceptual mapping of a user’s privacy needs to distinct layers. Based on this conceptualization we introduce a privacy-centric approach for modeling this information. Additionally, we propose a context-aware mechanism for the definition of context-dependent release triggers in order to enable fine-grained control over the disclosure of sensitive information. Finally, we present the components of the proposed system architecture, explain how they interact with each other and discuss how our framework can be integrated into a modern mobile operating system.

International Journal On Advances in Intelligent Systems