Privacy, Availability and Economics in the Polaris Mobile Social Network
Ben Y. Zhao
ACM Workshop on Mobile Computing Systems and Applications (HotMobile 2011)
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While highly successful, today's online social networks (OSNs) have made
a conscious decision to sacrifice privacy for availability and
centralized control. Unfortunately, tradeoffs in this "walled garden"
architecture naturally pit the economic interests of OSN providers
against the privacy goals of OSN users, a battle that users cannot win.
While some alternative OSN designs preserve user control over data, they
do so by de-prioritizing issues of economic incentives and
sustainability. In contrast, we believe any practical alternative to
today's centralized architecture must consider incentives for providers
as a key goal. In this paper, we propose a distributed OSN architecture
that significantly improves user privacy while preserving economic
incentives for OSN providers. We do so by using a standardized API to
create a competitive provider marketplace for different components of
the OSN, thus allowing users to perform their own tradeoffs between
cost, performance, and privacy. We describe Polaris, a system
where users leverage smartphones as a highly available identity provider
and access control manager, and use application prototypes to show how
it allows data monetization while limiting the visibility of any single
party to users' private data.