Privacy and Contextual Integrity: Framework and Applications

Privacy and Contextual Integrity: Framework and Applications, A. Barth, A. Datta, J.C. Mitchell, and H. Nissenbaum. Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, May 2006.

Contextual integrity is a conceptual framework for understanding privacy expectations and their implications developed in the literature on law, public policy, and political philosophy. We formalize some aspects of contextual integrity in a logical framework for expressing and reasoning about norms of transmission of personal information. In comparison with access control and privacy policy frameworks such as RBAC, EPAL, and P3P, these norms focus on who personal information is about, how it is transmitted, and past and future actions by both the subject and the users of the information. Norms can be positive or negative depending on whether they refer to actions that are allowed or disallowed. Our model is expressive enough to capture naturally many notions of privacy found in legislation, including those found in HIPAA, COPPA, and GLBA.

A number of important problems regarding compliance with privacy norms, future requirements associated with specific actions, and relations between policies and legal standards reduce to standard decision procedures for temporal logic.

Contextual integrity is a part of a philosophical theory of privacy developed by the philosopher Helen Nissenbaum, and it's very neat to see it being applied to develop machine-checkable access-control formalisms.