Privacy-Conscious Location-Based Queries in Mobile Environments

Jianliang Xu*, Xueyan Tang, Haibo Hu, Jing Du

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)
42 Downloads (Pure)


In location-based services, users with location-aware mobile devices are able to make queries about their surroundings anywhere and at any time. While this ubiquitous computing paradigm brings great convenience for information access, it also raises concerns over potential intrusion into user location privacy. To protect location privacy, one typical approach is to cloak user locations into spatial regions based on user-specified privacy requirements, and to transform location-based queries into region-based queries. In this paper, we identify and address three new issues concerning this location cloaking approach. First, we study the representation of cloaking regions and show that a circular region generally leads to a small result size for region-based queries. Second, we develop a mobility-aware location cloaking technique to resist trace analysis attacks. Two cloaking algorithms, namely MaxAccu-Cloak and MinComm-Cloak, are designed based on different performance objectives. Finally, we develop an efficient polynomial algorithm for evaluating circular-region-based kNN queries. Two query processing modes, namely bulk and progressive, are presented to return query results either all at once or in an incremental manner. Experimental results show that our proposed mobility-aware cloaking algorithms significantly improve the quality of location cloaking in terms of an entropy measure without compromising much on query latency or communication cost. Moreover, the progressive query processing mode achieves a shorter response time than the bulk mode by parallelizing the query evaluation and result transmission.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4840334
Pages (from-to)313-326
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems
Issue number3
Early online date24 Apr 2009
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics

User-Defined Keywords

  • Location-based services
  • location privacy
  • query processing
  • mobile computing


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