Hide-n-Seek: An Intent-aware Privacy Protection Plugin for Personalized Web Search

Published in ACM SIGIR, 2018

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We develop Hide-n-Seek, an intent-aware privacy protection plugin for personalized web search. In addition to users' genuine search queries, Hide-n-Seek submits k cover queries and corresponding clicks to an external search engine to disguise a user's search intent grounded and reinforced in a search session by mimicking the true query sequence. The cover queries are synthesized and randomly sampled from a topic hierarchy, where each node represents a coherent search topic estimated by both n-gram and neural language models constructed over crawled web documents. Hide-n-Seek also personalizes the returned search results by re-ranking them based on the genuine user profile developed and maintained on the client side. With a variety of graphical user interfaces, we present the topic-based query obfuscation mechanism to the end users for them to digest how their search privacy is protected.