Seminar on Location Privacy (DAAD-funded)


This seminar/project focussed on location privacy and related issues that arise from using mobile or situated technology as well as location-based services in general.  Technological, societal and legal aspects were discussed in the context of designing and implementing an application that enables its users to take control of location privacy.  Topics of this seminar/course project, amongst others, openness, transparency, privacy as a concept/in law, comparing US/EU practices, ethical implications, and the impact of big data.  Funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the project enabled postgraduate students and members of faculty from both sides of the Atlantic to pay a visit to the other side in order to explore privacy issues across different cultures and legal systems.

The seminar/project was a collaboration with the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (Prof. Francis Harvey): students and teachers from Minneapolis and from Muenster participated and worked together throughout the second half of 2014. In addition to interesting discussions on issues relad to location privacy, the participants also developed three prototypes/concepts for applications that explore new ways to deal with location privacy:

LocBro is an app/approach that enables people to specify in detail which app on their mobile phone is allowed access to what kind of location information and under what circumstances. It was developed by Marius Runde, Petter Zimmerhoff, Stefan Fuest (University of Münster) and Yilun "Allen" Lin, Yingbin "Ben" Liang (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). QR2GO is an app/approach that entirely forgoes any kind of location sensors that are built into mobile devices. Instead it relies on visual markers attached on site to enable people to exactly localise themselves. It was developed by John Bowman (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis), Sven Heitmann, Heinrich Löwen and Daniel Sawatzky (University of Münster). SeeCTV is an an app that focusses on CCTV and how it affects the location privacy of passers-by. It provides means to map out areas that are (not) covered by CCTV systems, and enables people to plan their route either avoiding areas under CCTV surveillance or seeking those areas (e.g. to feel more secure. Eric DeLuca, Ding Fei, Yiren Ding, Bryan Runck (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis) and René Unrau (University of Münster) developed this app/concept.


slides of final presentation slides of final presentation



The seminar/project ran from September 2014 to December 2014. Following a two-week intensive workshop in Minneapolis, the participants worked on developing ideas, concepts and prototypes for dealing with location privacy and then met again in Münster (in December) for the final workshop, where they presented their results. In addition to the information shown above, we also recorded the final presentations:

Further information can be found in the final report, which is available for download here.

The participants and organisers would like to acknowledge the support by the DAAD as well as by the two hosting universities, without which it would not have been possible to run the project/seminar. At the University of Münster, the seminar was supported by the Internationalisation Fond. We would like to thank these organisations for enabling this international and intercultural event on a very pressing topic.

In case of further questions or any other enquiries relating to this event, please contact either Francis Harvey or Chris Kray.