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Privacy Exposure Measure: A Privacy-Preserving Technique for Health-Related Web Search

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The increasing use of web search engines (WSEs) for searching healthcare information has resulted in a growing number of users posting personal health information online. A recent survey demonstrates that over 80% of patients use WSE to seek health information. However, WSE stores these user's queries to analyze user behavior, result ranking, personalization, targeted advertisements, and other activities. Since health-related queries contain privacy-sensitive information that may infringe user's privacy. Therefore, privacy-preserving web search techniques such as anonymizing networks, profile obfuscation, private information retrieval (PIR) protocols etc. are used to ensure the user's privacy. In this paper, we propose Privacy Exposure Measure (PEM), a technique that facilitates user to control his/her privacy exposure while using the PIR protocols. PEM assesses the similarity between the user's profile and query before posting to WSE and assists the user in avoiding privacy exposure. The experiments demonstrate 37.2% difference between users' profile created through PEM-powered-PIR protocol and other usual users' profile. Moreover, PEM offers more privacy to the user even in case of machine-learning attack.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2019

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  • Journal of Medical Imaging and Health Informatics (JMIHI) is a medium to disseminate novel experimental and theoretical research results in the field of biomedicine, biology, clinical, rehabilitation engineering, medical image processing, bio-computing, D2H2, and other health related areas.
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