Mobile Users Versus Service Providers in Privacy Preservation Using Dummy Locations

Location-based services (LBS) are extremely popular in these days. Mobile users use the services such as GPS and Google Maps almost every day to assist their daily activities like finding a restaurant or looking for an apartment. However, in order to use the services, users have to share their location information with the service providers. This requirement may hold back the service adaptation since users may not like to share their locations with others. One common method to preserve user privacy is to send a couple of dummy locations along with the true location to the service providers, so the provider would not be able to tell which location is true. This method is simple and effective, but it also has some drawbacks that make the privacy safeguarding fragile. For example, the 4 million miles of roads covered in the US is only a fraction of a percent of the total land area in the lower 48 states. If the dummy locations are not carefully planned, they may land on fields or water and could be easily perceived as fake. The dummy locations generated by the users must take the following features into consideration: On the other end, the service providers will be able to tell the locations are fake if the above features are not followed. This research investigates the flaws of using dummy locations to uphold user privacy from both the users’ and service providers’ points of view, and proposes innovative methods to close the loopholes, so more users will be willing to use location-based services.

mobile computing, security, privacy, location-based service, dummy location


International Conference on Engineering, Science and Technology (IConEST 2022), Austin, Texas, October 13-16, 2022.