LOCA: A Location-Oblivious Cellular Architecture


Zhihong Luo, Silvery Fu, and Natacha Crooks, UC Berkeley; Shaddi Hasan, Virginia Tech; Christian Maciocco, Intel; Sylvia Ratnasamy, UC Berkeley; Scott Shenker, UC Berkeley and ICSI


Cellular operators today know both the identity and location of their mobile subscribers and hence can easily profile users based on this information. Given this status quo, we aim to design a cellular architecture that protects the location privacy of users from their cellular providers. The fundamental challenge in this is reconciling privacy with an operator's need to provide services based on a user's identity (e.g., post-pay, QoS and service classes, lawful intercept, emergency services, forensics).

We present LOCA, a novel cellular design that, for the first time, provides location privacy to users without compromising on identity-based services. LOCA is applicable to emerging MVNO-based cellular architectures in which a virtual operator acts as a broker between users and infrastructure operators. Using a combination of formal analysis, simulation, prototype implementation, and wide-area experiments, we show that LOCA provides provable privacy guarantees and scales to realistic deployment figures.

NSDI '23 Open Access Sponsored by
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)

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@inproceedings {286469,
author = {Zhihong Luo and Silvery Fu and Natacha Crooks and Shaddi Hasan and Christian Maciocco and Sylvia Ratnasamy and Scott Shenker},
title = {{LOCA}: A {Location-Oblivious} Cellular Architecture},
booktitle = {20th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI 23)},
year = {2023},
isbn = {978-1-939133-33-5},
address = {Boston, MA},
pages = {1621--1646},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/nsdi23/presentation/luo},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = apr

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