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Journal Articles Proceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technologies Year : 2023

PRIVIC: A privacy-preserving method for incremental collection of location data


With recent advancements in technology, the threats of privacy violations of individuals' sensitive data are surging. Location data, in particular, have been shown to carry a substantial amount of sensitive information. A standard method to mitigate the privacy risks for location data consists in adding noise to the true values to achieve geo-indistinguishability (geo-ind). However, geo-ind alone is not sufficient to cover all privacy concerns. In particular, isolated locations are not sufficiently protected by the state-of-the-art Laplace mechanism (LAP) for geo-ind. In this paper, we focus on a mechanism based on the Blahut-Arimoto algorithm (BA) from the rate-distortion theory. We show that BA, in addition to providing geo-ind, enforces an elastic metric that mitigates the problem of isolation. Furthermore, BA provides an optimal trade-off between information leakage and quality of service. We then proceed to study the utility of BA in terms of the statistics that can be derived from the reported data, focusing on the inference of the original distribution. To this purpose, we de-noise the reported data by applying the iterative Bayesian update (IBU), an instance of the expectation-maximization method. It turns out that BA and IBU are dual to each other, and as a result, they work well together, in the sense that the statistical utility of BA is quite good and better than LAP for high privacy levels. Exploiting these properties of BA and IBU, we propose an iterative method, PRIVIC, for a privacy-friendly incremental collection of location data from users by service providers. We illustrate the soundness and functionality of our method both analytically and with experiments.
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Dates and versions

hal-03968692 , version 1 (01-02-2023)
hal-03968692 , version 2 (04-07-2023)
hal-03968692 , version 3 (24-10-2023)





Sayan Biswas, Catuscia Palamidessi. PRIVIC: A privacy-preserving method for incremental collection of location data. Proceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technologies, 2023, 2024 (1), pp.582-596. ⟨10.56553/popets-2024-0033⟩. ⟨hal-03968692v3⟩
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