Personalized privacy in open data sharing scenarios

Date12 June 2017
Publication Date12 June 2017
AuthorDavid Sánchez,Alexandre Viejo
SubjectLibrary & information science,Information behaviour & retrieval,Collection building & management,Bibliometrics,Databases,Information & knowledge management,Information & communications technology,Internet,Records management & preservation,Document management
Personalized privacy in open
data sharing scenarios
David Sánchez and Alexandre Viejo
Department of Computer Engineering and Mathematics,
Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to propose a privacy-preserving paradigm for open data sharing
based on the following foundations: subjects have unique privacy requirements; personal data are usually
published incrementally in different sources; and privacy has a time-dependent element.
Design/methodology/approach This study first discusses the privacy threats related to open data
sharing.Next, these threats are tackledby proposing a new privacy-preservingparadigm. The main challenges
related to the enforcement of the paradigmare discussed, and some suitable solutions are identified.
Findings Classic privacy-preserving mechanisms are ineffective against observers constantly monitoring
and aggregating pieces of personal data released through the internet. Moreover, these methods do not
consider individual privacy needs.
Research limitations/implications This study characterizes the challenges to the tackled by a
new paradigm and identifies some promising works, but further research proposing specific technical
solutions is suggested.
Practical implications This work provides a natural solution to dynamic and heterogeneous open data
sharing scenarios that require user-controlled personalized privacy protection.
Social implications There is an increasing social understanding of the privacy threats that the
uncontrolled collection and exploitation of personal data may produce. The new paradigm allows subjects to
be aware of the risks inherent to their data and to control their release.
Originality/value Contrary to classic data protection mechanisms, the new proposal centers privacy
protection on the individuals, and considers the privacy risks through the whole life cycle of the data release.
Keywords Privacy, Data sharing, Data brokers, Personalized data protection
Paper type Conceptual paper
Within the current context of information societies, it is possible and generally easy to find
informationabout our identities, habits,interests or opinions in several electronic sources such
as government databases, commercial platforms or social networks. Moreover, this shared
informationtends to increase over time andusually remains available forlong periods, so that
the data thatcan be gathered from us grow and becomemore detailed with every newrelease.
Because personal data are considered the fuel of the modern digital economy, their collection
and exploitation have become an extremely lucrative business. For example, data brokers,
who compile and analyze consumersinformation to resell it or to provide business services,
such as identity verification, marketing products or personal profiling (US Federal Trade
Commission, 2014), have reported annual revenues of more than 1 billion USD.
In parallel with the growth of personal data sharing, there is an increasing social
understanding of the privacy threats that the uncontrolled collection and exploitation of these
personal data may produce, which include discriminatory actions, unethical exploitation of data
or phishing. In fact, the Microsofts 2015 annual report How personal technology is changing
our lives(Microsoft, 2015) reported that a 64 percent of internet users from developed countries
Online Information Review
Vol. 41 No. 3, 2017
pp. 298-310
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/OIR-01-2016-0011
Received 13 January 2016
Revised 4 October 2016
Accepted 10 October 2016
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
This work was partly supported by the European Commission (projects H2020-644024 CLARUSand
H2020-700540 CANVAS), by the Spanish Government (projects TIN2014-57364-C2-R SmartGlacis
and TIN2016-80250-R Sec-MCloud) and by the Government of Catalonia under Grant No. 2014 SGR
537. The opinions expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the
views of UNESCO.

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