An update on privacy in ubiquitous computing
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One of the editors of this special issue recently conducted an analysis of all major applications presented in the IEEE Pervasive Computing Magazine from 2003 to 2005. More than two-thirds of them had people as their main object of observation (rather than, say, ducks, bridges, or glaciers). In 90% of these human-focused applications, the observing person was not necessarily identical with the observed. Only about half of these applications allowed the people observed to even get feedback about (or insights into) their own behavior. In all other cases, third parties or machines were observing them without notice. These numbers illustrate why Ubicomp scholars regularly echo privacy as a key challenge for the adoption and ethical acceptability of smart environments. The unprecedented collection coverage, the invisibility of the collection process, the amount of data collected, and the envisioned system interconnectivity should motivate the community to consider ‘built-in’ privacy to a...