A Practical Approach to Location Privacy in Public WiFi Networks

The rapid growth in the number of public hotspots offering wireless connectivity enables tracking the location of a mobile subscriber at a much finer level compared to other widely deployed technologies. While businesses may seek to convert fine-grain location information into valuable services, subscribers may not want their location revealed. We propose a practical location privacy solution, which can be readily understood by a non-technical subscriber. We also believe that our solution is attractive enough to be offered by service providers keen on using privacy as a competitive advantage. Our solution is based on decoupling user identity from device identity by relying on real-world mechanisms that provide anonymity. We believe this is a simple and practical step along the path to realizing Mark Weiser’s vision of ubiquitous computing.

By: M. T. Raghunath, Chandrasekhar Narayanaswami

Published in: RC22781 in 2003


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