A Practical Approach to Navigating the Tradeoff Between Privacy and Precise Utility
Due to the recent popularity of online social networks, coupled with people's propensity to disclose personal information in an effort to achieve certain gratifications, the problem of navigating the tradeoff between privacy and utility attracted a lot of recent interest and generated a rich body of research. A critical prerequisite to solving the problem is to appropriately capture the privacy and the utility aspects in the problem formulation. Most of the existing works' focus is on the
... of privacy, while utility loss is often treated as the undesirable but necessary distortion of the true data, introduced by the privacy mechanism. By contrast, we are interested in modelling utility differently, by associating it with specific attributes of a user, just like privacy is associated with specific private attributes in the literature. Our model of utility facilitates a better and more precise privacy mechanism, and achieves better privacy-utility tradeoffs. We further incorporate into our problem formulation a practical constraint on acceptable loss in utility per unit gain in privacy, which allows users to customize the privacy mechanisms in order to account for the relative values that each user associates with their own privacy and utility. This paper discusses the intricacies of our utility model and the corresponding privacy-utility tradeoff, and introduces a heuristic greedy algorithm to solve the problem.