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Lunch Hour Lecture: Protecting users’ privacy in modern web applications

By Kilian Thayaparan, on 18 February 2015

Cyber security robot“This thing will never take off,” Professor Brad Karp (UCL Computer Science) jokingly recalls himself saying about the World Wide Web when the concept was first introduced to him in the 1990s. Yet since its introduction, when websites were simply static documents, it has gone on to be of incredible value to people across the globe.

The evolution of the World Wide Web has led to an increasing focus on web applications, or ‘apps’, and with this has come a problematic conflict between privacy and functionality. It is this conflict that formed the basis of Professor Karp’s Lunch Hour Lecture, as he put forward a solution to end this “unpalatable trade-off”.

According to Professor Karp, the issue has arisen as a result of the Web’s original architecture; designers were thinking about privacy when building the Web, but this same approach has restricted the creation of web applications. To get around such restrictions, developers need to work outside of this architecture and subsequently compromise on privacy.