Privacy-Preserving Relative Location Based Services for Mobile Users

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Privacy-Preserving Relative Location Based Services for Mobile Users



Location-aware applications have been used widely with the assistance of the latest positioning features in Smart Phone such as GPS, AGPS, etc. However, all the existing applications gather users’ geographical data and transfer them into the pertinent information to give meaning and value. For this kind of solutions, the user’s privacy and security issues might be raised because the geographical location has to be exposed to the service provider. A novel and practical solution is proposed in this article to provide the relative location of two mobile users based on their WiFi scanned results without any additional sensors. There is no privacy concern in this solution because end users will not collect and send any sensitive information to the server. This solution adopts a Client/Server (C/S) architecture, where the mobile user as a client reports the ambient WiFi APs and the server calculates the distances based on the WiFi AP’s topological relationships. A series of technologies are explored to improve the accuracy of the estimated distance and the corresponding algorithms are proposed. We also prove the feasibility with the prototype of “Circle Your Friends” System (CYFS) on Android phone which lets the mobile user know the distance between him and his social network friends.


The rapid proliferation of smart phone technology in urban communities has enabled mobile users to utilize context aware services on their devices. Service providers take advantage of this dynamic and ever-growing technology landscape by proposing innovative context-dependent services for mobile subscribers. Location-based Services (LBS), for example, are used by millions of mobile subscribers every day to obtain location-specific information .Two popular features of location-based services are location check-ins and location sharing. By checking into a location, users can share their current location with family and friends or obtain location-specific services from third-party providers, the obtained service does not depend on the locations of other users. The other types of location-based services, which rely on sharing of locations (or location preferences) by a group of users in order to obtain some service for the whole group, are also becoming popular. According to a recent study, location sharing services are used by almost 20% of all mobile phone users. One prominent example of such a service is the taxi-sharing application, offered by a global telecom operator, where smart phone users can share a taxi with other users at a suitable location by revealing their departure and destination locations. Similarly, another popular service enables a group of users to find the most geographically convenient place to meet.


  1. Privacy of a user’s location or location preferences, with respect to other users and the third-party service provider, is a critical concern in such location-sharing-based applications. For instance, such information can be used to de-anonymize users and their availabilities, to track their preferences or to identify their social networks. For example, in the taxi-sharing application, a curious third-party service provider could easily deduce home/work location pairs of users who regularly use their service.
  2. Without effective protection, evens parse location information has been shown to provide reliable information about a users’ private sphere, which could have severe consequences on the users’ social, financial and private life. Even service providers who legitimately track users’ location information in order to improve the offered service can inadvertently harm users’ privacy, if the collected data is leaked in an unauthorized fashion or improperly shared with corporate partners.


  • In the proposed system, Problem in a privacy-preserving fashion, where each user participates by providing only a single location preference to the CYFS solver or the service provider.
  • In this significantly extended version of our earlier conference paper, we evaluate the security of our proposal under various passive and active adversarial scenarios, including collusion.
  • We also provide an accurate and detailed analysis of the privacy properties of our proposal and show that our algorithms do not provide any probabilistic advantage to a passive adversary in correctly guessing the preferred location of any participant.
  • In addition to the theoretical analysis, we also evaluate the practical efficiency and performance of the proposed algorithms by means of a prototype implementation on a test bed of Nokia mobile devices. We also address the multi-preference case, where each user may have multiple prioritized location preferences.
  • We highlight the main differences, in terms of   performance, with the single preference case, and also present initial experimental results for the multi-preference implementation. Finally, by means of a targeted user study, we provide insight into the usability of our proposed solutions.


We address the privacy issue in LSBSs by focusing on a specific problem called the CYFS. Given a set of user location preferences, the CYFS is to determine a location among the proposed ones such that the maximum distance between this location and all other users’ locations is minimized, i.e. it is fair to all users.


Privacy-Preserving Relative Location Based Services for Mobile Users



  • System :         Pentium IV 2.4 GHz.
  • Hard Disk           : 40 GB.
  • Floppy Drive : 44 Mb.
  • Monitor : 15 VGA Colour.
  • Mouse :
  • Ram : 512 Mb.


  • Operating system : Windows 7.
  • Coding Language : Java 1.7
  • Tool Kit : Android 2.3 ABOVE
  • IDE : Eclipse


Fei Ning, Zhuang Yi, Gu Jingjing, Cao Jiannong, Yang Liang, “Privacy-Preserving Relative Location Based Services for Mobile Users”, IEEE SECURITY SCHEMES AND SOLUTIONS, 2015.

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