Middleware for Pervasive Spaces: Balancing Privacy and Utility

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Executive Summary

Middleware for pervasive spaces has to meet conflicting requirements. It has to both maximize the utility of the information exposed and ensure that this information does not violate users' privacy. In order to resolve these conflicts, the authors propose a framework grounded in utility theory where users dynamically control the level of disclosure about their information. They begin by providing appropriate definitions of privacy and utility for the type of applications that would support collaborative work in an office environment - current definitions of privacy and anonymity do not apply in this context. They propose a distributed solution that, given a user's background knowledge, maximizes the utility of the information being disclosed to information recipients while meeting the privacy requirements of users.

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