Negotiating Exchanges of Private Information for Web Service Eligibility

  • Keping Jia
  • Bruce Spencer
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 2671)


Private information about individuals that engage in e-commerce business transactions is of economic value to businesses for market analysis and for identifying possible future partners. For various reasons, maintaining the privacy of that information is important to these individuals, including avoiding unwelcome communication, spam, from those businesses or their associates. In this paper we advocate a negotiation strategy to be used by an individual deciding whether or not to divulge information to a specific electronic business for a specific purpose, such as achieving preferential status with a service provider or a discounted price from a vendor. The strategy makes use of explanation techniques for expert systems that answer “how”, “what if” and “why not” questions. We assume that the business practices of the provider or vendor are available as explicit business rules, including the eligibility criteria for preferential status and price discounts. Our prototype allows the user to obtain a proof that the information to be given is both necessary and sufficient for achieving the eligibility / discount — answering “how” eligibility is established. The communication protocol with the prototype also includes “what if” dialogues allowing a user to assess the difficulty and benefits of achieving eligibility, and “why not” dialogues for identifying missing eligibility criteria. The prototype is built upon the emerging standard Web Services architecture. Thus the prototype allows a business to expose its business practices, educating its customers, so it can provide the most appropriate service for a given individual. The prototype engages the customer to assess the benefit of exposing some private information to the business. Through the “what if” interface, the customer can be aware of the complete set of information that will be necessary to achieve the desired eligibility before any private information is actually transmitted. We offer an example where a user is negotiating a car price discount.


Private Information Proof Tree Service Broker Explanation Tree Payment Type 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keping Jia
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bruce Spencer
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.National Research CouncilFrederictonCanada
  2. 2.Computer ScienceUniversity of New BrunswickFrederictonCanada

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