Internet of Things Garage

Automated Privacy Negotiation

The digital economy is based on data sharing yet citizens have little control about how their personal data is being used. While data management during web and app-based use is already a challenge, as the Internet of Things (IoT) scales up, the number of devices accessing and requiring personal data will go beyond what a person can manually assess in terms of data access requests. Therefore, new approaches are needed for managing privacy preferences at scale and providing active consent around data sharing that can improve fidelity of operation in alignment with user intent.

To address this challenge, we introduce a novel agent-based approach to negotiate the permission to exchange private data between users and services. Our agent negotiates based on learned preferences from actual users. To evaluate our agent-based approach, we developed an experimental tool to run on people’s own smartphones, where users were asked to share their private, real data (e.g. photos, contacts, etc) under various conditions. The agent autonomously negotiates potential agreements for the user, which they can refine by manually continuing the negotiation. The agent learns from these interactions and updates the user model in subsequent interactions. We find that the agent is able to effectively capture the preferences and negotiate on the user’s behalf but, surprisingly, does not reduce user engagement with the system. Understanding how interaction interplays with agent-based automation is a key component to successful deployment of negotiating agents in real-life settings and within the IoT context in particular.




The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is a British Research Council that provides government funding for grants to undertake research and postgraduate degrees in engineering and the physical sciences, mainly to universities in the United Kingdom.


Tim Baarslag, Alper Alan, Richard Gomer, Muddasser Alam, Charith Perera, Enrico Gerding and M.C. Schraefel, An Automated Negotiation Agent for Permission Management, Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-agent Systems (AAMAS), Sao Paulo, Brazil, May, 2017, Pages 380-390 (10)