Semantic-enabled Architecture for Auditable Privacy-Preserving Data Analysis

Tracking #: 2883-4097

Fajar J. Ekaputra
Andreas Ekelhart
Rudolf Mayer
Tomasz Miksa
Tanja Šarčević
Sotirios Tsepelakis
Laura Waltersdorfer

Responsible editor: 
Guest Editors ST 4 Data and Algorithmic Governance 2020

Submission type: 
Full Paper
Small and medium-sized organisations face challenges in acquiring, storing and analysing personal data, particularly sensitive data (e.g., data of medical nature), due to data protection regulations, such as the GDPR in the EU, which stipulates high standards in data protection. Consequently, these organisations often refrain from collecting data centrally, which means losing the potential of data analytics and learning from aggregated user data. To enable organisations to leverage the full-potential of the collected personal data, two main technical challenges need to be addressed: (i) organisations must preserve the privacy of individual users and honour their consent, while (ii) being able to provide data and algorithmic governance, e.g., in the form of audit trails, to increase trust in the result and support reproducibility of the data analysis tasks performed on the collected data. Such an auditable, privacy-preserving data analysis is currently challenging to achieve, as existing methods and tools only offer partial solutions to this problem, e.g., data representation of audit trails and user consent, automatic checking of usage policies or data anonymisation. To the best of our knowledge, there exists no approach providing an integrated architecture for auditable, privacy-preserving data analysis. To address these gaps, as the main contribution of this paper, we propose the WellFort approach, a semantic-enabled architecture for auditable, privacy-preserving data analysis which provides secure storage for users’ sensitive data with explicit consent, and delivers a trusted, auditable analysis environment for executing data analytic processes in a privacy-preserving manner. Additional contributions include the adaptation of Semantic Web technologies as an integral part of the WellFort architecture, and the demonstration of the approach through a feasibility study with a prototype supporting use cases from the medical domain. Our evaluation shows that WellFort enables privacy preserving analysis of data, and collects sufficient information in an automated way to support its auditability at the same time
Full PDF Version: 


Solicited Reviews:
Click to Expand/Collapse
Review #1
Anonymous submitted on 02/Nov/2021
Review Comment:

The authors correctly addressed the reviewers' suggestions to improve the article, namely in relation to the availability of the DPV and PROV-O extensions and respective documentation, and also provide a proof of concept and demos of the WellFort platform.

In Section 2 (Requirements), the authors introduce the use cases, used to later study their approach, where they mention two companies which sometimes are referred to as company A and company B and sometimes as company H and company M. This should be addressed to have homogeneity, even in Figure 1.
In Section 4 (Semantic-Web Methods for Auditable Privacy-preserving Data Analysis), the permanent URI of the id vocabulary ( does not resolve / results in a 404 error. In Listing 1, :hasConsent should be meta:hasConsent.
In Section 5.3, the expiry times of the consent specification in Listings 3 and 4 don’t match.
In Section 6 (Evaluation), the letters in Figure 9 are too small and its label does not mention the use case it refers to (UC2). The letters in Figure 11 are also too small.

P8R21: One of the main requirement of -> requirements
P8R33: DPV does not recommend specific mechanism -> a / any specific
P25L12: (GDPR))