I'm looking for a way for someone to prove to me their geographical location without a trusted third-party. Imagine wanting to prove to someone you're actually physically in a specific place. I'd imagine you'd need something like perhaps a receiver of some kind to triangulate the location of a satellite that could perhaps only be calculated in that spot?

Is this possible?

  • $\begingroup$ Can they be anywhere in the world? I.e., is there any bound on their distance from you? Not sure if this is really the right site for this question. Security.SE may be better. We can migrate if needed. $\endgroup$
    – mikeazo
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 22:23
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah anywhere and from any distance. I'd figure crypto would've been a good place because I'm looking for the same proof that for example public-key cryptography provides through signatures. But rather than a signature, it's a geographical location (if that makes sense) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 22:35
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    $\begingroup$ If you cover the earth in trusted sensors then you can do cryptographic distance bounding (google-able term) to determine the distance from known sensors and triangulate from there (note issues about bad guys moving your sensors etc etc). $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 23:00
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    $\begingroup$ research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/vipul/pbc.pdf $\endgroup$
    – DrLecter
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 8:24
  • $\begingroup$ The tricky part in your question is "without a trusted third party". Does that mean you want a proof of location without infrastructure at all (e.g. senders and receivers of radio transmissions, etc.)? Maybe you should clarify your setting some more, but without some trusted infrastructure for localization, you won't find a solution. $\endgroup$
    – tylo
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 9:24

2 Answers 2


A clear cut answer to your question is NO for now. In the literature there is no an accurate and reliable scheme that can determine geolocation of the data. They are basically timing-based schemes and the problem with timing (in this case) is that many factors can affect it. Also they usually assume that there are some reliable landmarks around the world that can help determining data location.

I think some internet infrastructures are needed to be improved to support such capability. See below for some paper in this area.

However, securing outsourced data might be a solution in hand rather than finding its location (I entourage you to think/read about why data location may matter).

1-GeoProof: Proofs of Geographic Location for Cloud Computing Environment:http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=6258199

2-Do You Know Where Your Cloud Files Are? : http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2046677

3-Geolocation of Data in the Cloud: http://znjp.com/papers/gondree-codaspy13.pdf


Watson et al. describe in [1] a Proof of Location scheme (PoL), intended for giving assurance that a file, stored by a cloud provider, is indeed located in some particular place (or more specifically, within some distance from a predetermined set of landmarks).

This proposal basically mixes a Proof of Retrievability (PoR) and a trusted geolocalization service. I guess some of these ideas could be used in your case.


[1] Watson, G. J., Safavi-Naini, R., Alimomeni, M., Locasto, M. E., & Narayan, S. (2012, October). LoSt: location based storage. In Proceedings of the 2012 ACM Workshop on Cloud computing security workshop (pp. 59-70). ACM.

  • $\begingroup$ I totally forgot you required no trusted party. In that case, I don't think there is any (good) solution. $\endgroup$
    – cygnusv
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 9:31

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