Call for Submissions

Panel Announcement:

Privacy and the Semantic Web: Should we just stop caring?

Fabien Gandon, Inria Nice

Peter Mika , Yahoo London

Axel Polleres , WU Wien

Harald Sack, Universität Potsdam

Workshop on

Society, Privacy and the Semantic Web -

Policy and Technology

PrivOn 2015

Hashtag: #PrivOn2015

at the International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC) 2015

October 12th, 2015, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, United States


Bruce Schneier’s article “The Internet is a surveillance state” summarised the state of Internet privacy as “Welcome to an Internet without privacy, and we've ended up here with hardly a fight”. Later, Snowden shocked the world by revealing that the US National Security Agency (NSA) were tracking online communication in a large scale surveillance programme known as PRISM. This was quickly followed by revelations that other countries were running similar covert operations.

Last year, on the 25th anniversary of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee called on the world to take a stand against surveillance on the Web. He suggested to create a global digital bill of rights similar to the Magna Carta that can be used to safeguard privacy, limit censorship and protect against fragmentation of the Web.

With this workshop we aim at raising awareness that the technologies the community are working on have global societal consequences. Vice versa, our research can be guided by a Magna Carta for the Web. This year’s workshop aims to build on previous workshops, by capturing the intersection between society, policy and technology, by contributing to the foundations of a global digital bill of rights and investigating how we can technologically support these foundations.

Motivation and Objectives

Bruce Schneier’s introduces his recent book “Data and Goliah” with the following paragraphs:

“Your cell phone provider tracks your location and knows who’s with you. Your online and in-store purchasing patterns are recorded, and reveal if you’re unemployed, sick, or pregnant. Your e-mails and texts expose your intimate and casual friends. Google knows what you’re thinking because it saves your private searches. Facebook can determine your sexual orientation without you ever mentioning it.

The powers that surveil us do more than simply store this information. Corporations use surveillance to manipulate not only the news articles and advertisements we each see, but also the prices we’re offered. Governments use surveillance to discriminate, censor, chill free speech, and put people in danger worldwide. And both sides share this information with each other or, even worse, lose it to cybercriminals in huge data breaches”.

The Snowden revelations made the world sit up and take notice and are still making headlines. It was already widely known that the NSA had been collecting the telephone records of millions of telephone customers in bulk. Snowden’s revelations uncovered details of an Internet surveillance program called PRISM, which showed the NSA had obtained direct access to the systems of nine Internet companies, including Google, Facebook, and Apple. The months that followed included a stream of revelations of other internet surveillance programs such as MUSCULAR, XKeyscore and Tempora, as well as the bulk collection of US and European telephone metadata, and large scale data analytics over the collected data.

In an interview with the BBC, Tim Berners-Lee called for the online community to take action: “In front of us are two roads - which way are we going to go?”. Tim Berners-Lee suggested to establish a Magna Carta for the world wide web and to crowdsource a set of values which will be so much part of our lives in a way that they become on a level with human rights.

Are we going to continue on the road and just allow the governments to do more and more and more control - more and more surveillance?

In the last year we have seen a number of collaborative efforts to define a bill of rights for the web that are commonly referred to as “The Web We Want”. The impact of data, technology and privacy is so broad that the discussion should have the title “The Society We Want”.

In parallel governments are looking at existing legislation, in order to identify the shortcomings “with the U.S. trying to satisfy EU requirements for data protection, and proposed reforms in Japan using the EU's principles and the proposed U.S Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights as models”.

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. We are part of the problem therefore we should be part of the solution.

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 are proposing technical solutions without fully understanding the societal and legal requirements.

When it comes to privacy online there are many questions which remain unanswered:

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 should a Magna Carta look like?

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?

The workshop is a continuation of the previous two workshops, which started to build a critical mass within our community around these topics of increasing importance - but still a lot of work needs to be done. Asking societal question is uncommon for technology oriented researchers, but necessary for technologies with a society wide impact. The goals of the workshop can be summarised as follows:

Raise awareness that the technologies the community are working on have global societal consequences. Concurrently, raise awareness that our research can be guided by determining a road map for desirable privacy goals.

Provide a platform for debate between the different communities that are involved in Web privacy and security - e.g. policy makers, users, social sciences and computer scientists.

Grow the community of individuals actively working on the topic and promote the diversity of research beyond the technical aspects.


A number of Semantic Web researchers are actively working on technological solutions for security and privacy of both data and semantic data. However, we explicitly aim to broaden the participation in this workshop, reflecting the growing importance and impact semantic technologies have. Given the broader context of this workshop, it will appeal not only to the usual ISWC audience but but also to other groups. Notably we aim to attract 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 healthcare, 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 and did not take into consideration societal events and trends. This workshop aims to capture the intersection between society, policy and technology, for example by contributing to the foundations of a global digital "bill of rights" similar to the Magna Carta as suggested by Tim Berners-Lee. Therefore we have structured 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 domains?

    • 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

    • What should a “Magna Carta for Data” look like?

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?

    • Techniques for anonymity, pseudonymity and unlinkability

    • Privacy implications of data integration and data linking

    • Protecting against pattern/behaviour discovery and community mining

    • Protecting against identity theft and data falsification

    • Non-repudiation and digital signatures

    • Usage control and accountability

    • Data provenance and trustworthiness of knowledge sources

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.

  • Research papers and reports (up to 16 pages) and position papers (up to 8 pages), must adhere to the LNCS Style.

  • Papers must be submitted in PDF format through the workshop submission site at:

  • Papers will be reviewed by the program committee and a limited number will be selected for presentation at the workshop.

  • As per previous workshops we aim to publish the proceedings of the workshop online at CEUR-WS.

The PrivOn workshop is also looking for late breaking ideas and research to stimulate discussion on Privacy in the context of the Semantic Web.

Similar to poster and demonstration papers, late-breaking research papers contain original and unpublished accounts of innovative research ideas, research projects and preliminary results relating to Privacy and the Semantic Web (society, policy and technology).

Papers must be 4-6 pages long and must conform to the LNCS Proceedings format. Submissions will be reviewed by the Program Committee and a limited number of those will be selected for presentation and publication in the workshop proceedings.

Important Dates

Organising Committee

Program Committee

Philippe Cudré-Mauroux, University of Fribourg, Switzerland

Ernesto Damiani, University of Milan, Italy

Tim Finin, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, United States

Kerstin Forsberg, AstraZeneca, Sweden

RV Guha, Google

Lalana Kagal, CSAIL, MIT, Cambridge, United States

Alessandra Mileo, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, NUI Galway, Ireland

Enrico Motta, The Open University, UK

Ian Niles, Microsoft

Inah Omoronyia, University of Glasgow, UK

Alexandre Passant, Seevl, Ireland

Axel Polleres, Institute for Information Business, WU Wien, Austria

Víctor Rodríguez Doncel, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain

Ravi Sandhu, University of Texas at San Antonio, United States

Luigi Sauro, Università degli Studi di Napoli "Federico II", Italy

Stefan Schlobach, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Maria Sokhn, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland, Switzerland

Sarah Spiekermann, Institute for Information Business of WU Wien

John Taysom, 2012 Senior Fellow ALI, Harvard University, UK

Keerthi Thomas,The Open University, UK

Serena Villata, INRIA Sophia Antipolis, France

Daniel Weitzner, CSAIL, MIT, Cambridge, United States

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