Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Title: Privacy-Preserving Personal Mobile Databox

POST BY Mateus Felipe Eisenkraemer

It has been almost two years after the world was shocked with the surveillance scandal made by the NSA agency, where according to The Guardian ( http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/24/brazil-president-un-speech-nsa-surveillance ), “Personal data of citizens was intercepted indiscriminately”. Certainty, this scandal led to a global awareness of how valuable our personal information is and how badly it can be misused. 

Unfortunately, there are very few studies and tools that focus into providing alternatives for keeping our private data safe, while still not completely disrupting with the current targeted ad campaigns or giving breach for terrorism threats.

Our online interactions seem to be increasing exponentially in the past few years. With more devices and services being used every day, it is really hard to be aware how much data we generate every day and an even harder to know how our data is being used by others.
Considering this constraints, we propose an Android mobile app that enables people to engage with the collection and management of their own personal data. The platform can be referred as a Databox, and will be situated on the users own smart phone with all the gathered data available there. The main reason why all the data will be persisted just on the user own device is because there are a range of privacy threats that arise due to, for example, storing all this data about us in a third party website or cloud service.

The data gathered and stored in the Databox is the following:
Online Profile: Facebook profile information, as name, gender, locale, email and age.
·        Individual: Personal location history using the device GPS system.
·        Online social Network Sentiment analysis: A sentiment analysis over the user own posts on Twitter.
·        Online social Network Trend analysis: A daily trend analysis over the posts made by the user and their connections in Twitter and Instagram.
·        Health: Total number of steps made by the user in each day.

The current objective of the Databox is to generate user awareness and control over its own online generated data. But we foresee a wider spectrum that this application could fit in. We plan to provide the users of the app with the ability to choose certain pieces of data to be made available to third parties as a form of payment for a service or simply appreciation. This could allow many different types of interaction, as the Databox being a new type of currency available for us to use.
The targeted ad campaigns models by the analysis of personal data could also be benefited by the use of Databox, in a much less invasive way. Media companies and end users could agree upon which and how each data piece would be used. Always allowing each of us to be in total control of our online generated data and deciding who should have access to it.

The Databox project is open source and currently available at https://github.com/DataboxInc/DataboxQMULAndroidApp, all contributions are greatly appreciated.