Privacy Inference Disclosure Control with Access-Unrestricted Data Anonymity

Privacy Inference Disclosure Control with Access-Unrestricted Data Anonymity

Zude Li (The University of Western Ontario, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-000-5.ch010
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This chapter introduces a formal study on access-unrestricted data anonymity. It includes four aspects: (1) it analyzes the impacts of anonymity on data usability; (2) it quantitatively measures privacy disclosure risks in practical environment; (3) it discusses the potential factors leading to privacy disclosure; and (4) it proposes the improved anonymity solutions within typical k-anonymity models, which can effectively prevent privacy disclosure that is related with the published data properties, anonymity principles, and anonymization rules. The experiments have found these potential privacy inference violations and shown the enhanced privacy-preserving effect of the new anti-inference policies to access-unrestricted data publication.
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The term “privacy” is generally used as “the right to select what personal information about me is known to what people” (Westin, 1976). In a technical view, data privacy protection is to manage individual data in a privacy aware way, including determination of when, how and to what extent such data can be communicated to others with what special features. Privacy is becoming a hot concern for both individuals and organizations.

In the past thirty years, a lot of research studies have been contributed to data privacy. Roughly, these studies can be classified into two types: access-restricted and access-unrestricted. The access-restricted type focuses on how to protect privacy through restricting user access to the private data: A user can access the data only if he/she satisfies the access constraints predefined on the data. The access-unrestricted type concerns on data publication, making them oriented to most users and at the same time avoiding possibly compromised privacy disclosure. In the access-restricted type studies, researchers usually extend access-based control models for privacy enhancing (Antón et al., 2003; Crook et al., 2005). For instances, Purpose-Based Access Control (PBAC) (Byun et al., 2005) and Hippocratic Database (HDB) (Agrawal et al., 2002) are two access control based privacy techniques. In these models, direct privacy disclosure (i.e., access some unauthorized data or with illegal purposes) can be efficiently prevented, while indirect privacy disclosure (i.e., infer unauthorized or purpose-illegal private data based on accessed data aggregation) is still a challenging problem. Some inference control techniques (Staddon, 2003) are available for handling this issue.

Access-unrestricted data privacy techniques are widely required in practice, such as individual data dissemination, voting data proclamation, health-care data publication, etc. Data anonymity is generally the privacy solution used for this type of applications. The key issue for enhanced access-unrestricted privacy protection is to quantitatively measure the risk of privacy disclosure and information loss which are coupled by data anonymity. One of recently proposed privacy techniques for handling access-unrestricted data privacy is k-anonymity (Sweeney, 1997). In nature, it is a data processing model towards maintaining data usability as well as avoiding privacy disclosure during unrestricted data access. No matter of its implementation complexity in practice, privacy disclosure on k-anonymized access-unrestricted dataset is still existed (Machanavajjhala et al., 2006; Li et al., 2006a).

This chapter aims to a formal research on access-unrestricted privacy protection, mainly focusing on the data anonymization process and the privacy inference risk analysis with anonymized data. As the best we know, there are no literatures related to privacy inference control study for access-unrestricted privacy applications. Most anonymity risk detection techniques focus on the anonymization process on only the resulting dataset but not any other external information, which, subsequently, cannot guarantee the survivability of real application systems. This chapter, based on our early work (Ye et al., 2007), illustrates an approach to measuring privacy inference risks on the k-anonymized dataset in a quantitatively manner. Through the data anonymity analysis, we discover four main factors that may incur various privacy violations. Further, we propose two effective anti-inference privacy policies for access-unrestricted data publication. In this chapter, k-anonymity is used as a scenario model to perform data anonymity. In the experiments studied, we have proven the existence of potential privacy inference violations and the efficiency of our anti-inference policies.

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