[talks] I Davey generals

Melissa M. Lawson mml at CS.Princeton.EDU
Wed Jan 16 14:18:01 EST 2013

Ian Davey will be presenting his research seminar/general exam (talk only) on 
Wednesday January 23 at 2PM in Sherrerd 306 (Note Location!). The members 
of his committee are: Ed Felten (advisor), Michael Freedman, and Zeev Dvir. 
Everyone is invited to attend his talk. 

----- Original Message -----

Collective Security for Resistance to Mass Harvesting of Publicly-Available Information 

As internet users produce and share increasing amounts of content, some new privacy concerns appear. 
In particular, various entities who have no personal interest in any particular author will nonetheless crawl 
the internet and harvest any public data they can find. While users may be perfectly happy to share thoughts, 
photos, video, and contact information with other human users (including complete strangers), they may not 
wish for the data to be grabbed automatically at scale and used for targeted advertising, spam, search indexing and archiving, etc. 

Ultimately this becomes an instance of the key distribution problem --- while normal encryption may appear 
at first the obvious solution, in this case we cannot expect the author to have an existing relationship with 
his/her audience, and thus there is not necessarily an out-of-band channel through which to exchange key data. 
However, also in this case, while each member of the desired audience has a limit to the amount of content he/she 
wishes to view, the adversary has no such limit and wishes to scrape everything. We can exploit this property to find a solution. 

In this talk we formally define a notion of ``collective security,'' which allows for the recovery of individual pieces of 
data but provides resistance to mass harvesting of the entire corpus of content. We then propose methods which 
use weak symmetric ciphers and/or hyperencryption to fill this requirement and prove a theoretical upper bound on 
its effectiveness. We also propose a system of ``shortcuts'' in case a (possibly one-way) channel for key exchange 
exists between an author and a viewer. We then present experimental results, explore an economy where barriers 
to mass information harvesting exist, and describe a browser extension which implements some of our techniques. 

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