Privacy Researchers Push for Location Services Protected By Cryptography
Google Latitude, Loopt and Brightkite are location-based search services that help users find friends, businesses and other information from their mobile and wireless devices. The Electronic Frontier Foundation offers a whitepaper on how these services can use cryptographic security to protect consumer privacy. The challenges are great, but they argue the results will be worth it in ensuring users' locational privacy.Many users love geo-location services such as Google Latitude, Loopt and Brightkite, which leverage GPS data and wireless networks to help users find their friends, businesses or other areas of interest from their smartphones. Such services also scare some users because they mean our location information is stored in a database. What if we want a user or service provider to know where we are, but not have that information stored in the location-based service provider's servers?
A privacy expert and a mathematician have proposed such services that ensure users' locational privacy are possible.
The naive way to do mobile location search is for the device to say "This is Frank's Nokia here. I see the following five Wi-Fi networks with the following five signal strengths." The service replies "OK, that means you're at the corner of 5th and Main in Springfield." Then your device replies, "What burger joints are nearby? Are any of Frank's friends hanging out nearby?" That kind of search creates a record of everywhere you go and what you're searching for while you're there.The researchers claim the cryptographic way to blend location-based services and search would sound like this: