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New Developments in PETS

If you want to register for the seminar, you should do so via the central seminar assignment system.

Technology is everywhere. We carry extremely powerful computers, also known as phones, everywhere we go. We interact with friends, family and colleagues via online platforms, and a large fraction of the information we consume comes from online platforms. On the one hand, digitalization brings enormous benefits. On the other hand, it makes it almost much easier to violate user's privacy, to surveil large fractions of a population, and sometimes even to control or influence what people do and think.

In this seminar, we will look at privacy-enhancing technologies, digital means that can help counteract this reduction in privacy caused by increasing digitalization. We will read and discuss new and seminal papers to learn about new techniques and ideas in the field of privacy-enhancing technologies. You will learn how to critically analyze and present existing research papers, as well as how to write your own small paper.


Roughly each week, we will discuss a different topic. In particular:

  • Each student will prepare a presentation for their assigned topic based on the assigned (lead and follow-up) papers
  • For two topics (that students do not present) they will write a review and prepare questions for the follow-up paper
  • Students write a short seminar paper based on their assigned topic.

All students are expected to attend and participate in the discussions.


The final list of topics and potential papers will be determined later. But the preliminary list includes: anonymous communication (e.g., looking at Tor and more recent systems), private information retrieval (traditional systems, and blazingly fast new proposals), digital contact tracing, private set intersection (e.g., for contact discovery) as well as other foundational work on privacy and (digital) surveillance. Our goal is to give you an overview of exciting new research and ideas going on in the field of privacy.


During the semester you will have to deliver (some details to be worked out):

  • A presentation on your assigned topic (40%). The presentation should be between 20 and 30 minutes. You will have the opportunity to get feedback on your presentation before the seminar.
  • Two reviews of an assigned paper (2x 10%).
  • A short seminar paper based on your topic (40%). The seminar paper is due near the end of the semester. Provided your first submission receives a passing grade, you will have the opportunity to submit a revised version of the paper after receiving feedback.

Important Dates

We will arrange a time-slot based on the availability of the attendees and the lecturer.


The course has no formal requirements but preference will be given to Master students in Computer Science and related fields. A basic understanding of security and cryptography (as taught for example in CySec1/CySec2 or the Security course) is essential to be able to follow the material in this course. Having taken the Privacy-Enhancing Technology class will really help, but is not essential.

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