Google Research

Privacy Mediators: Helping IoT Cross the Chasm

  • Nigel Davies
  • Nina Taft
  • Mahadev Satyanarayanan
  • Sarah Clinch
  • Brandon Amos
International Workshop on Mobile Computing Systems and Applications (ACM HotMobile) (2016)


Unease over data privacy will retard consumer acceptance of IoT

deployments. The primary source of discomfort is a lack of user

control over raw data that is streamed directly from sensors to the

cloud. This is a direct consequence of the over-centralization of

today’s cloud-based IoT hub designs. We propose a solution that

interposes a locally-controlled software component called a privacy

mediator on every raw sensor stream. Each mediator is in the same

administrative domain as the sensors whose data is being collected,

and dynamically enforces the current privacy policies of the owners

of the sensors or mobile users within the domain. This solution ne- cessitates a logical point of presence for mediators within the admin- istrative boundaries of each organization. Such points of presence

are provided by cloudlets, which are small locally-administered data

centers at the edge of the Internet that can support code mobility.

The use of cloudlet-based mediators aligns well with natural personal

and organizational boundaries of trust and responsibility.

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