Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Digital privacy matures

Blanket privacy measures on computers, such as removing cookies or browser information, are giving way to a much more sophisticated technology. Personal data will be safeguarded more effectively and selectively.
Digital privacy matures
The popularity of internet-based services, wireless networks and mobile phone applications is leaving users more vulnerable to electronic crime. As electronic privacy becomes more important, the need for implementing privacy protocols in user technology also increases.

Current privacy tools on a personal computer, such as removing cookies and erasing browser preferences, already exist and are simple to apply. However, if the user wants to be more selective in what should be erased or protected, the issue becomes more complicated.

The EU-funded 'Privacy architectures for system services' (PASS) project is developing easy-to-use tools that apply safety measures not only within applications, but on operation systems and entire networks as well. The project is implementing privacy as a service or application that automatically 'scrubs' user data according to user preferences, monitoring the electronic environment and tracking personal identification data.

The system is being developed for both novice users and experts and differentiates between privacy requirements at different stages of a file's usage or lifecycle. For instance, idle files may be ignored until they become attachments in emails, where they are then cleansed of certain user information. A bank or trusted colleague may be enabled to view relevant data while an online forum may be denied.

Sophisticated methods for protecting the user's electronic environment from information leaks on to the Web are being developed by examining millions of documents online. The project is also developing security and privacy protocols that consider access rights and privacy-conscious data sharing in medical environments.

Having made good progress, the project team is now publishing and distributing its findings in global conferences and important journals. Such research will help firms develop new software that can give all users their desired level of privacy in an increasingly invasive high-tech world.

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