Photo Access Control Project


Photo sharing on the Web is very popular among Web users nowadays. Websites such as Flickr allows users to upload their photos to the Web and describe them using tags. At the same time, there is also a rising concern about privacy or access control among the users. Users may not want to share all of their photos with all other users on the Web.

Currently, Flickr allows users to choose whether a photo should be visible to all other users, to only their friends or family members, or be completely private. However, more specific access controls such as making a set of photo visible only to one's colleagues are not possible. This project aims at providing a solution to this problem by combining tagging with linked data on the Semantic Web as well as OpenID authentication method. The goal is to allow users to specify access control rules based on, for example, the social network information contained in their FOAF (Friend-of-A-Friend) profile and possibly other linked data on the Web.


  1. To provide a more flexible system for users to specify access control rules to their photo collections using existing tags.
  2. To provide such a system which is also easy to set up by taking advantages of existing tools: OpenID for authentication, the AIR reasoner for reasoning on access control rules, and the Tabulator for user interface.
  3. To demonstrate the advantage of reusing existing data on the Web and of combining metadata from different sources.

System Design

Figure 1. System Architecture


This document describes research work carried out by Albert Au Yeung while he was visiting the Decentralized Information Group (DIG) at CSAIL, MIT, as part of the Web Science Exchange Program organised by the Web Science Research Initiative (WSRI) with the support from an EPSRC Grant (No. EP/F013604/1). This work was carried out under the supervision of Lalana Kagal and Tim Berners-Lee. The author also thanks other members of DIG for contributing their ideas to the project in various occasions.



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