Institute for Software Research
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


Formal Analysis of Privacy Requirements Specifications
for Multi-Tier Applications

Travis D. Breaux, Ashwini Rao

January 2013


Keywords: Privacy, requirements, standardization, description logic, formal analysis

Companies require data from multiple sources to develop new information systems, such as social networking, e-commerce and location-based services. Systems rely on complex, multi-stakeholder data supply-chains to deliver value. These data supply-chains have complex privacy requirements: privacy policies affecting multiple stakeholders (e.g., user, developer, company, government) regulate the collection, use and sharing of data over multiple jurisdictions (e.g., California, United States, Europe). Increasingly, regulators expect companies to ensure consistency between company privacy policies and company data practices. To address this problem, we propose a methodology to map policy requirements in natural language to a formal representation in Description Logic. Using the formal representation, we reason about conflicting requirements within a single policy and among multiple policies in a data supply chain. Further, we enable tracing data flows within the supply-chain. We derive our methodology from an exploratory case study of Facebook platform policy. We demonstrate the feasibility of our approach in an evaluation involving Facebook, Zynga and AOL-Advertising policies. Our results identify three conflicts that exist between Facebook and Zynga policies, and one conflict within the AOL Advertising policy.

17 pages

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