PrivacyStreams Helps Developers Create Privacy Friendly Apps
Decision To Share Personal Data Need Not Be All or Nothing
A smartphone app that uses the raw feed from a device’s microphone or accesses its contact list can raise red flags for a user concerned about privacy. In many cases, however, the app doesn’t need all the details that users find most sensitive.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon and Peking universities have addressed this dilemma by creating a service, PrivacyStreams, that enables app developers to access the smartphone data they need for app functionality while assuring users that their private information isn’t being sold to an online marketer or otherwise revealed.
A sleep-monitoring app, for instance, might need to access the smartphone’s microphone, but only to register loudness, not to monitor conversations. An app developer could simply sample the microphone feed every minute or so, use software in the PrivacyStreams library to transform the raw data to loudness and then send just the loudness data back to the smartphone for use by the app.