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The presence of ubiquitous connectivity provided by wireless communications and mobile computing has changed the way humans interact with information. At the same time, it has made communication security and privacy a hot-button issue. In this article we address the security and privacy concerns in wireless access networks. We first discuss the general cryptographic means to design privacy-preserving security protocols, where the dilemma of attaining both security and privacy goals, especially user accountability vs. user privacy, is highlighted. We then present a novel authentication framework that integrates a new key management scheme based on the principle of separation of powers and an adapted construction of Boneh and Shacham's group signature scheme, as an enhanced resort to simultaneously achieve security, privacy, and accountability in wireless access networks.