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The Semantic Web And Data Privacy

By   /  January 28, 2014  /  No Comments

Photo courtesy: FlickR/ Alan Cleaver

Photo courtesy: FlickR/ Alan Cleaver

by Jennifer Zaino

Happy Data Privacy Day!

The semantic web community has done its share of thinking on the data privacy topic, as evidenced by events such as Privacy Online 2013 at the International Semantic Web Conference in Australia. Recognizing the impact of semantic technologies on privacy, the workshop aimed to focus on raising awareness that the technologies the semweb community is working on have global societal consequences as well as to raise the awareness of interconnections between the different communities that are involved in Web privacy and security.

If you haven’t had a chance to have a look before, today’s the perfect day to check out the papers that were accepted for that event, which you can access here.

In Personal Privacy and The Web of Linked Data, authored by David Corsar, Peter Edwards, and John Nelson, for example, you can read about the results of a study investigating the user privacy challenges when personal data is published within Linked Data environments, using as an example the datasets involved with the U.K. Informed Rural Passenger GetThere project, a passenger information system that crowd-sources transport information from users (including personal data, such as their location).

With its caveat that the risks in the scenarios it discusses are there whenever personal data is published online – and that the use of linked data simply serves to make it easier for others to get to and use that data – it lays out the potential for unfortunate situations ranging from highly tailored phishing attacks accomplished in part with the aid of FOAF profiles (a user’s FOAF profile is linked to each journey he’s made using GetThere) to the bad guys potentially identifying a traveler’s patterns to glean when she is away from home in party be leveraging Linked Data that’s published for UK postcodes. It proposes a set of guidelines to raise awareness and also address the potential hazards to individuals of malicious parties exploiting Linked Data and semantic web technologies for attacks.

You might also want to explore semantic web projects designed to foster privacy such as the Privacy-Lookout Project, from the GDD research group of LINAUniversity of Nantes. It’s a privacy-lookout license ontology designed to let people be on the “lookout” for transgressions of their personal data privacy. The concept, the developers discuss here, involves constructing a personal Linked Data view of individuals to organize and semantically enrich the meta information of their personal data existing in the Web, with the result being to allow them to define their personal wishes about the privacy policies for their data; automatically detect the misuse, misinformation, inaccuracy or transgression of data protection rules of their data in the Web automatically; and give a report to data servers and storers when data privacy problems arise. Last fall saw the availability of the second version of the core ontology to support this.

There are plenty more tips to the semantic web/ data privacy iceberg out there (check our site for the many other articles we’ve covered to date on the issue for a start). And please do share some of your own favorite data privacy resources/tips/thoughts with your fellow readers today!

About the author

Jennifer Zaino is a New York-based freelance writer specializing in business and technology journalism. She has been an executive editor at leading technology publications, including InformationWeek, where she spearheaded an award-winning news section, and Network Computing, where she helped develop online content strategies including review exclusives and analyst reports. Her freelance credentials include being a regular contributor of original content to The Semantic Web Blog; acting as a contributing writer to RFID Journal; and serving as executive editor at the Smart Architect Smart Enterprise Exchange group. Her work also has appeared in publications and on web sites including EdTech (K-12 and Higher Ed), Ingram Micro Channel Advisor, The CMO Site, and Federal Computer Week.

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