Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2015/592

Oblivion: Mitigating Privacy Leaks by Controlling the Discoverability of Online Information

Milivoj Simeonovski and Fabian Bendun and Muhammad Rizwan Asghar and Michael Backes and Ninja Marnau and Peter Druschel

Abstract: Search engines are the prevalently used tools to collect information about individuals on the Internet. Search results typically comprise a variety of sources that contain personal information --- either intentionally released by the person herself, or unintentionally leaked or published by third parties without being noticed, often with detrimental effects on the individual's privacy. To grant individuals the ability to regain control over their disseminated personal information, the European Court of Justice recently ruled that EU citizens have a right to be forgotten in the sense that indexing systems, such as Google, must offer them technical means to request removal of links from search results that point to sources violating their data protection rights. As of now, these technical means consist of a web form that requires a user to manually identify all relevant links herself upfront and to insert them into the web form, followed by a manual evaluation by employees of the indexing system to assess if the request to remove those links is eligible and lawful.

In this work, we propose a universal framework Oblivion to support the automation of the right to be forgotten in a scalable, provable and privacy-preserving manner. First, Oblivion enables a user to automatically find and tag her disseminated personal information using natural language processing (NLP) and image recognition techniques and file a request in a privacy-preserving manner. Second, Oblivion provides indexing systems with an automated and provable eligibility mechanism, asserting that the author of a request is indeed affected by an online resource. The automated eligibility proof ensures censorship-resistance so that only legitimately affected individuals can request the removal of corresponding links from search results. We have conducted comprehensive evaluations of Oblivion, showing that the framework is capable of handling 278 removal requests per second on a standard notebook (2.5 GHz dual core), and is hence suitable for large-scale deployment.

Category / Keywords: applications / Right to be forgotten, privacy, EU legislation, data protection, information discoverability, search engines

Original Publication (in the same form): 13th International Conference on Applied Cryptography and Network Security (ACNS'15)

Date: received 15 Jun 2015, last revised 15 Jun 2015

Contact author: simeonovski at cs uni-saarland de

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Version: 20150621:162830 (All versions of this report)

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