Safeguard Privacy for Minimal Data Collection with Trustworthy Autonomous Agents

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Ensuring digital privacy necessitates users giving well-considered consent to online service providers for data usage, creating an unsustainable and error-prone decision load. Software privacy agents can help make data consent decisions on behalf of users, but a compromised agent could be more detrimental than the absence of such an agent. In response, we employ trustworthy autonomous agents to safeguard users’ privacy at the stage of data collection. Drawing upon General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) principles, notably data minimisation, our autonomous agent guarantees that GDPR-reflected privacy requirements are met through strong proof. We provide a computational encoding of a typical data collection scenario—where data are requested and decisions are made about these requests—as a cognitive agent that makes decisions based on how an agent’s beliefs and goals lead to particular choices. Importantly, our approach provides verifiable assurance about decisions made by these cognitive agents through formal verification, supporting both simultaneous (data requested at the same time) and sequential (data requested one after the other) situations. We provide a templated implementation of these privacy agents and a small example of a mobile app serves to illustrate how a privacy agent can be designed in practice. An in-depth evaluation is given to demonstrate its computational practicality in making privacy decisions in real time and its computational complexity in verifying them. This approach represents a promising step towards trustworthy computational stewardship in data management.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS)
PublisherInternational Foundation for Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Dec 2023


  • Privacy
  • Data Collection
  • Trustworthy Autonomous Agents


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