PrivacySearch: An End-User and Query Generalization Tool for Privacy Enhancement in Web Search

  • Francisco-Javier Rodrigo-Ginés
  • Javier Parra-Arnau
  • Weizhi Meng
  • Yu WangEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11058)


Web search engines capitalize on, or lend themselves to, the construction of user interest profiles to provide personalized search results. The lack of transparency about what information is stored, how it is used and with whom it is shared, limits the perception of privacy that users have about the search service. In this paper, we investigate a technology that allows users to replace specific queries with more general but semantically similar search terms. Through the generalization of queries, user profile could become less precise and therefore more private, although evidently at the expense of a degradation in the accuracy of search results. In this work, we design and develop a tool of PrivacySearch that implements this principle in real practice. Our tool, developed as a browser plug-in for Google Chrome, enables users to generalize the queries sent to a search engine in an automated fashion, without the need for any kind of infrastructure or external databases, and in real time, according to simple and intuitive privacy criteria. Experimental results demonstrate the technical feasibility and suitability of our solution.



Partial support to this work has been received from the European Commission (projects H2020-644024 “CLARUS” and H2020-700540 “CANVAS”), and the Spanish Government (projects TIN2014-57364-C2-1-R “Smart-Glacis” and TIN2016-80250-R “Sec-MCloud”). J. Parra-Arnau is the recipient of a Juan de la Cierva postdoctoral fellowship, IJCI-2016-28239, from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francisco-Javier Rodrigo-Ginés
    • 1
  • Javier Parra-Arnau
    • 1
  • Weizhi Meng
    • 2
  • Yu Wang
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Computer Science and Mathematics, CYBERCAT-Center for Cybersecurity Research of CataloniaUniversitat Rovira i VirgiliTarragonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer ScienceTechnical University of DenmarkKongens LyngbyDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Computer ScienceGuangzhou UniversityGuangzhouChina

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