ObSecure Logging (OSLo): a framework to protect and evaluate the web search privacy in health care domain

Mohib Ullah*, Muhammad Arshad Islam, Rafiullah Khan, Muhammad Aleem, Muhammad Azhar Iqbal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Users around the world send queries to the Web Search Engine (WSE) to retrieve data from the Internet. Users usually take primary assistance relating to medical information from WSE via search queries. The search queries relating to diseases and treatment is contemplated to be the most personal facts about the user. The search queries often contain identifiable information that can be linked back to the originator, which can compromise the privacy of a user. In this work, we are proposing a distributed privacy-preserving protocol (OSLo) that eliminates limitation in the existing distributed privacy-preserving protocols and a framework, which evaluates the privacy of a user. The OSLo framework asses the local privacy relative to the group of users involved in forwarding query to the WSE and the profile privacy against the profiling of WSE. The privacy analysis shows that the local privacy of a user directly depends on the size of the group and inversely on the number of compromised users. We have performed experiments to evaluate the profile privacy of a user using a privacy metric Profile Exposure Level. The OSLo is simulated with a subset of 1000 users of the AOL query log. The results show that OSLo performs better than the benchmark privacy-preserving protocol on the basis of privacy and delay. Additionally, results depict that the privacy of a user depends on the size of the group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1181-1190
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Medical Imaging and Health Informatics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Internet Health Privacy
  • Web Search Privacy
  • Probabilistic Privacy
  • Profile Obfuscation


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