The Case for Browser Provenance

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The Case for Browser Provenance

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Title: The Case for Browser Provenance
Author: Seltzer, Margo I.; Margo, Daniel Wyatt

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Citation: Margo, Daniel W. and Margo I. Seltzer. 2009. The case for browser provenance. In Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on the Theory and Practice of Provenance (TaPP '09), February 23, 2009, San Francisco, California. Berkeley, CA: USENIX Association.
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Abstract: In our increasingly networked world, web browsers are important applications. Originally an interface tool for accessing distributed documents, browsers have become ubiquitous, incorporating a significant portion of user interaction. A modern browser now also reads email, plays media, edits documents, and runs applications. Consequently, browsers process large quantities of data, and must record metadata, such as history, to help users manage their data. Most of the metadata that modern browsers record is actually provenance – metadata that captures the causality and lineage of data obtained via the browser. We demonstrate that characterizing browser metadata as provenance and then applying techniques from the provenance research community enables new browser functionality. For example, provenance can improve both history and web search by indicating contextual and personal relationships between data items. Users can also answer complex questions about the origins of their data by querying provenance. Our initial results suggest these features are feasible to implement and could perform well in modern browsers.
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