EEUM and INESC TEC team honoured at IN3+ Innovation Award

It received 250,000 euros for a project to reconcile privacy and transparency in digital services.

A team from the University of Minho’s School of Engineering and the Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science (INESC TEC) won 2nd place in the “IN3+ Prize, One Million for Innovation”, with 250,000 euros for a project that will enable digital services with more transparency and privacy for citizens.

The ceremony took place on 22 February at the headquarters of the Imprensa Nacional Casa da Moeda (INCM) in Lisbon. The initiative, in its 4th edition, was promoted by INCM, in partnership with the National Innovation Agency and with the High Patronage of the President of the Republic.

The winning project is called PeT – Privacy and Transparency and involves professors and researchers Ana Nunes Alonso, José Orlando Pereira, Nuno Faria and Rui Oliveira. The prize will now enable this idea to be developed and tested. Transparency of services is the order of the day. According to the latest Eurobarometer, corruption is perceived as “common” by 93 per cent of Portuguese citizens and 70 per cent of Europeans. “More transparency contributes to combating corruption and to the correct perception of the existence of corruption, as pointed out in various studies,” says Ana Alonso, a professor in the Department of Computer Science at UMinho’s School of Engineering and a researcher at INESC TEC’s Trusted Software Laboratory (HASLab) in Braga.

This is where PeT comes in. Having transparency about the performance of services and their providers while guaranteeing the privacy of users and the legitimate interests of providers is a real problem and the great challenge of this project, says the researcher. “On the one hand, it is essential to publish performance indicators that allow public control of the activities of service providers and, on the other hand, it must be possible for them to be validated by users and the general public, especially in the context of their private experience,” she adds.

PeT applies advances in cryptography and data management to guarantee the validation of service providers’ performance commitments, such as the maximum waiting time to access a service, without revealing the underlying data of the citizens involved. This guarantees citizens’ privacy and the transparency of service providers, such as institutions, which increases their trust in institutions. However, this technology is not limited to the context of waiting lists or queues, as it will also be possible to attest to generic statements about the content of third-party databases without revealing it.

This is the second time that UMinho’s School of Engineering and INESC TEC have been honoured in the IN3+ Award. In 2021, João Marco Silva, Vítor Fonte and António Sousa, authors of the IDINA – Inclusive Non-Authoritative Digital Identity project, were the big winners and raised 600,000 euros to create an effective and inclusive citizen identification platform in developing countries that do not have civil registration infrastructures for the entire population.

+Info: https://premioin3mais.pt/