Blowfish Privacy: Tuning Privacy-Utility Trade-offs using Policies

Xi He, Ashwin Machanavajjhala, and Bolin Ding

Abstract

Privacy definitions provide ways for trading-off the privacy of individuals in a statistical database for the utility of downstream analysis of the data. In this paper, we present Blowfish, a class of privacy definitions inspired by the Pufferfish framework, that provides a rich interface for this trade-off. In particular, we allow data publishers to extend differential privacy using a policy, which specifies (a) secrets, or information that must be kept secret, and (b) constraints that may be known about the data. While the secret specification allows increased utility by lessening protection for certain individual properties, the constraint specification provides added protection against an adversary who knows correlations in the data (arising from constraints). We formalize policies and present novel algorithms that can handle general specifications of sensitive information and certain count constraints. We show that there are reasonable policies under which our privacy mechanisms for k-means clustering, histograms and range queries introduce significantly lesser noise than their differentially private counterparts. We quantify the privacy-utility trade-offs for various policies analytically and empirically on real datasets.

Details

Publication typeProceedings
Published inProceedings of the ACM SIGMOD International Conference on Management of Data (SIGMOD 2014)
DOI10.1145/2588555.2588581
PublisherACM – Association for Computing Machinery
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