Who Masks? Correlates of Individual Location-Masking Behavior in an Online Survey (Short Paper)

Authors Dara E. Seidl , Piotr Jankowski

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Author Details

Dara E. Seidl
  • Department of Geography, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182, USA
Piotr Jankowski
  • Department of Geography, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182, USA and Institute of Geoecology and Geoinformation, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland

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Dara E. Seidl and Piotr Jankowski. Who Masks? Correlates of Individual Location-Masking Behavior in an Online Survey (Short Paper). In 10th International Conference on Geographic Information Science (GIScience 2018). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 114, pp. 57:1-57:6, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2018)


Geomasking traditionally refers to a set of techniques employed by a data steward to protect the privacy of data subjects by altering geographic coordinates. Data subjects themselves may make efforts to obfuscate their location data and protect their geoprivacy. Among these individual-level strategies are providing incorrect address data, limiting the precision of address data, or map-based location masking. This study examines the prevalence of these three location-masking behaviors in an online survey of California residents, finding that such behavior takes place across social groups. There are no significant differences across income level, education, ethnicity, sex, and urban locations. Instead, the primary differences are linked to intervening variables of knowledge and attitudes about location privacy.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Security and privacy → Human and societal aspects of security and privacy
  • privacy
  • geoprivacy
  • geomasking
  • obfuscation
  • accuracy


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