Browse Prior Art Database

A Mechanism for Providing Privacy Functionality to Users

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000019967D
Original Publication Date: 2003-Oct-14
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Oct-14
Document File: 2 page(s) / 49K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Users (called data owners in security and privacy literature) need to be provided with a means of reviewing data objects such as personally identifiable information (PII) that is stored about themselves on data processing devices and understanding who or what applications will use their PII and for what purposes in order to give informed consent for use of their PII data. Users also need a means of updating inaccurate PII data about themselves. Currently, users can read privacy statements on web sites to try to understand what their privacy rights are regarding their PII data. These statements are written in very general and legal terms that provide very little useful information to users; these privacy statements are not generally usable or useful. Web sites vary widely in whether they allow users to review or edit PII data about themselves. At this time, most sites do not allow users to review all PII data about themselves, and very few, if any sites, allow users to edit all of the PII data collected. For PII data stored in legacy applications, there may be manual processes for users to contact the organization who own the applications to find out information about what PII data on themselves is currently stored by the organization and who uses the PII information and for what purposes. These processes put an unreasonable burden on the users and are not usable and useful.

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A Mechanism for Providing Privacy Functionality to Users

   The invention is a contextual interaction method within a graphical user interface that provides users a summary of data objects and enables them to review and verify the subjects that are accessing the data objects and for what purposes. Personally identifiable information (PII) is an instance of the general class of data objects. And for example, users would use the contextual interaction method with a graphical user interface to view a summary of their PII data and to review and verify the subjects that are accessing their PII data and for what purposes. The contextual interaction mechanism enables users to consent or not to the use of the PII data by data users (these are people or applications; they are called "subjects" in the security and privacy literature) for these purposes. The consent provided by users can be either a general purpose opt-in to allow use of all PII data collected for a purpose, or consent can be given on a data field by data field basis.

After users have securely gained access and authenticated themselves to the data processing device containing their PII data, they can review a summary of their PII data provided in the context of their interactions with data users in these organizations. The graphical user interface displays their PII data in the context of the data owners' interactions with various data users, and lists which data users have accessed which PII data and for what purpose. The interaction method provides different levels of abstraction in a layered or hyper-text type of interaction whereby users can move through various levels of detail, from general to more specific. The PII data is organized as appropriate for the purpose for which it was used, for example, medical or legal data may be organized longitudinally based on episodes or particular milestones. Users (i.e., data owners) have the ability to provide consent for use of their PII data on either a general basis or a specific data field by data field basis, within the framework of the tasks or the professional guidelines for activities that the organization conducts. Users can specify how long their PII data may be used, by whom, and for what purposes, again, within the framework or professional guidelines for the type of work being carried out by an organization with whom the user is interacting.

The above described solution is better than the current solutions because the data owners (the users) will be informed and in control of their PII data.

Example of How It Works

The invention will be described through the use of a medical scenario. Data about patients (the users or data owners) is kept in software on data processing devices that a number of different categories of data users (e.g., doctors, nurses, financial and billing administrative staff, applications) can access and use for a variety of different purposes (e.g., medical treatment, summary medical reporting, billin...