An agent‐based privacy‐enhancing model

Hsu‐Hui Lee (Department of Computer Science, San José State University, San José, California, USA)
Mark Stamp (Department of Computer Science, San José State University, San José, California, USA)

Information Management & Computer Security

ISSN: 0968-5227

Publication date: 18 July 2008



The purpose of this paper is to discuss a privacy‐enhancing model, which is designed to help web users protect their private information. The model employs a collection of software agents. Privacy‐related decisions are made based on Platform for Privacy Preferences Project (P3P) information collected by the agents.


Based on P3P information collected and user preferences, the software agents play a role in the decision‐making process. This paper presents the design of the agent‐based privacy‐enhancing model and considers the benefits and utility of such an approach.


It is argued that the approach is feasible and it provides an effective solution to the usability limitations associated with P3P.

Research limitations/implications

The paper focuses primarily on usability issues related to P3P. Consequently, some of the ancillary security‐related issues that arise are not covered in detail. Also the paper does not cover the development of an appropriate ontology in significant detail.

Practical implications

Based on this analysis and extensive testing of the prototype, it is believed that the privacy‐enhancing model presented provides a sound basis for privacy protection on the web. While the emphasis here is on resolving the usability problems associated with P3P, a few straightforward enhancements to the implementation would make it a genuinely practical tool.


The usability of the P3P framework is generally considered its weak point. The paper provides a practical solution to this usability problem. One is not aware of any comparable work.



Lee, H. and Stamp, M. (2008), "An agent‐based privacy‐enhancing model", Information Management & Computer Security, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 305-319.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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