University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Computer Laboratory Systems Research Group Seminar > Don't kill my ads! Balancing Privacy in an Ad-Supported Mobile Application Market

Don't kill my ads! Balancing Privacy in an Ad-Supported Mobile Application Market

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Application markets have revolutionized the software download model of mobile phones: third-party application developers offer software on the market that users can effortlessly install on their phones. This great step forward, however, also imposes some threats to user privacy: applications often ask for permissions that reveal private information such as the user’s location, contacts and messages. While some mechanisms to prevent leaks of user privacy to applications have been proposed by the research community, these solutions fail to consider that application markets are primarily driven by advertisements that rely on accurately profiling the user. In this paper we take into account that there are two parties with conflicting interests: the user, interested in maintaining their privacy and the developer who would like to maximize their advertisement revenue through user profiling. We have conducted an extensive analysis of more than 250,000 applications in the Android market. Our results indicate that the current privacy protection mechanisms are not effective as developers and advert companies are not deterred. Therefore, we designed and implemented a market-aware privacy protection framework that aims to achieve an equilibrium between the developer’s revenue and the user’s privacy. The proposed framework is based on the establishment of a feedback control loop that adjusts the level of privacy protection on mobile phones, in response to advertisement generated revenue.

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Systems Research Group Seminar series.

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