Call for Submissions

Workshop on

Society, Privacy and the Semantic Web -

Policy and Technology

PrivOn 2013
Hashtag: #PrivOn2013

October 21st or 22nd, 2013, Sydney Masonic Conference & Function Centre, Sydney, Australia

Motivation and Objectives                                                                    
Bruce Schneier’s recent article “The Internet is a surveillance state” summarises the state of Internet privacy in its concluding paragraphs:
"So, we're done. Welcome to a world where Google knows exactly what sort of porn you all like, and more about your interests than your spouse does. Welcome to a world where your cell phone company knows exactly where you are all the time. Welcome to the end of private conversations, because increasingly your conversations are conducted by e­mail, text, or social networking sites.
And welcome to a world where all of this, and everything else that you do or is done on a computer, is saved, correlated, studied, passed around from company to company without your knowledge or consent; and where the government accesses it at 
will without a warrant. Welcome to an Internet without privacy, and we've ended up here with hardly a fight."

While Schneier’s article indicates his opinion, we see supporting evidence all around us. It is time to accept reality and think about implications and necessary actions. It is time to open our eyes, to review the situation we are in, to identify the societal and economic forces at work ­ on a national and international level ­ and define a way forward as a society.

We (the Semantic Web community) are responsible for the conception of technologies that enable large scale integration and mining of personal and public information in all domains of society. This brings unprecedented advantages, assists humans, organisations and systems with problem solving, enables innovation and increases productivity. It makes everything more transparent. However this transparency comes at a price: the loss of our privacy. There has been growing awareness within the community of the need to address privacy and security concerns. To date the focus has been on researching specific privacy and security models and frameworks, for example for access control, obfuscation, anonymization, aggregation, licensing, etc. However we are “putting the cart before the horse”, we need to identify clear privacy and security requirements before proposing technical solutions.

Like it or not, Schneier’s frankness is a fair representation of where we are now in terms of privacy ­ there is none. So taking this as fact can we get our privacy back? Do we even want to get it back? What level of (non­)privacy is acceptable in today's or future society? It’s clear from Schneier’s observations that technology alone is only part of the puzzle ­ social behaviours and governmental policy also have a role to play. So far the Semantic Web community focused on using technology for web scale data integration and exposure. We have to face up to the fact that our technology is inherently a technology that changes society on a global scale. This has strong implications on how we need to look at security and privacy and what instruments we need to use or influence. These instruments are not only technological, but also societal and legal.

Given implications of our technology, what does the society evolve to? What do we want it to evolve to? What is “acceptable behavior” for data aggregation and use? What are the societal norms that we have to develop or emerge? What are the “robots.txt” equivalents that need to be developed to keep data aggregators and governments in check?

What policies and laws are already in existence and what else do we need? How do we engage meaningfully in a discussion? What do we need to do in research or policy influencing in order to make a difference? How are these policies and laws developed and supported in an inherently international environment? How do we engage with other communities, e.g., in law and policy making?

How do we technologically support the described efforts? How do we support the compliance of privacy laws? How is our increased responsibility being reflected in our scientific events and conferences?

With this workshop we aim at the following goals:
  • First, raise awareness that the technologies the community are working on have global societal consequences. Vice versa, our research can be guided by determining a road map for desirable privacy goals. We aim to determine first steps towards identifying desirable goals. 

  • Second, raise awareness of interconnections between the different communities that are involved in Web privacy and security ­ e.g., policy makers, users, social sciences and computer scientists and provide a platform for interconnection and communication. 

  • Third, determine the next steps that need to be conducted in order to broaden the level of engagement between the relevant parties


A number of Semantic Web researchers are actively working on technological solutions for security and privacy of both data and semantic data. However, we hope to broaden the participation in this workshop, reflecting the growing importance and impact semantic technologies have. Given the broader context of this workshop, we hope to attract Semantic web researchers as well as policy makers, lawyers and researchers with an interest in the societal impact of technology. Furthermore we expect interest from a number of different application domains such as health care, financial, and ebusiness where privacy is an important topic.

Topics Of Interest

The topics of this workshop are different from previous workshops and events, which were usually focused on technology. This workshop aims to capture the intersection between society, policy and technology. Therefore we structure the topics in three main areas as follows.

Society and privacy

  • Case studies: what are the societal privacy implications of semantic technologies? 
  • What is the impact of semantic technologies on privacy in specific domain? 
  • What are appropriate societal conventions to protect privacy? 
  • What are desirable privacy situations? 
  • When do we want to control information flow? 
  • Privacy awareness in social communities 

Legal and policy perspective of privacy

  • Managing personal information disclosure 
  • What laws support privacy management and enforcement? 
  • What new legislation might be necessary? 
  • Privacy legislation compliance 
  • How to influence policy making? 
  • How to synchronise policies of different legal domains? 
  • Personal data and the role of the data controller/processor 

Technology perspective

  • How can societal conventions be supported by technologies? 
  • Anonymity and identity discovery 
  • Techniques for anonymity, pseudonymity and unlinkability 
  • Privacy implications of data integration and data linking 
  • Protecting against pattern/behaviour discovery and community mining 
  • Protecting against data falsification 
  • Non-repudiation and digital signatures 
  • Usage control and accountability 
  • Data provenance and trustworthiness of knowledge sources 
You can also join our discussion page to make suggestions, and coordinate the discussion pre-workshop.

Format and Submission Procedure

Contributions to the workshop can be made in terms of papers and reports as well as position papers addressing different issues of the stated topics of interest. 

  • Papers and reports (including short late-breaking papers and position papers) should be not longer than 12 pages using the LNCS Style. Papers and report contributions should be prepared in PDF format and should be submitted (no later than July 31st, 2013) through the workshop submission site at:
  • Position contributions will also be accepted as position posts or position videos in the associated Privon Google Community. Position contributions should not exceed 1000 words and should be handled according to the guidelines for technical papers as much as possible. Position videos should not exceed 5 minutes.

Papers and reports will be reviewed and a limited number of those will be selected for presentation. 

Position contributions that generate interesting discussions in the Google Community will be selected for short presentations. Position statements may be used to select participants based on available capacity to ensure an heterogeneous audience during the Workshop.

Pre-Workshop activities and Workshop Format

In preparation for the Workshop we gather contributions and discussions in the PrivOn Google Community and may organise a number of Google Hangouts, eventually with broadcast via Google Hangout on Air, so we explicitly encourage position papers and discussion from those that want to contribute but may not be able to attend in the Workshop.

The workshop intends to bring together people interested in the societal impact of semantic technologies, who may be from different communities such as sociologists, law and policy makers as well as the researchers from the core semantic web community. Since there are very few opportunities for members of these different communities to interact the workshop will be highly interactive and communicative. As such we aim at a full day workshop, with formal presentations in the morning and Open Space Discussions in the afternoon. Open Space Discussions will enable us to identify fruitful topics for collaboration and follow up activities via dynamic agenda building based on shared interested. It facilitates brainstorming sessions, breakout sessions and other dynamic meeting activities. We believe applying the Open Space technique is the right way to maximise results out of this workshop.

Important Dates

Extended July 31, 2013 (July 12, 2013)  Paper Submission Deadline
Extended August 12, 2013 (August 9, 2013)
 Notification of Accepted Technical Papers (and Position Papers)
September 9, 2013  Final Version Due
October 21st or 22nd, 2013  PrivOn 2013 Workshop, SMC Convention & Function Centre, Sydney, Australia

Organising Committee

  • Stefan Decker, DERI, NUI Galway, Ireland Web:
  • Jim Hendler, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA Email: Web:
  • Sabrina Kirrane, DERI, NUI Galway, Ireland Web:

Program Committee




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