Synthesizing differentially private location traces including co-locations

Jun Narita, Takao Murakami, Hideitsu Hino, Masakatsu Nishigaki, Tetsushi Ohki
International Journal of Information Security, pp.1-22, Aug 2023.
[ Paper ]


Privacy-preserving location synthesizers have been widely studied to perform private geo-data analysis. They have also been used for generating datasets for research or competitions. However, existing location synthesizers do not take into account the friendship information of users. Because friends tend to visit the same place at the same time in practice, a location synthesizer should consider such co-locations of friends to generate a more realistic dataset. In this paper, we propose a novel location synthesizer that generates location traces including co-locations of friends. Our location synthesizer models the information about the co-locations with two parameters: friendship probability and co-location count matrix. Our synthesizer generates a synthetic graph based on the friendship probability and then generates synthetic co-locations using the synthetic graph and the co-location count matrix. The two parameters in our synthesizer provide strong privacy guarantees—the friendship probability provides node differential privacy (DP) and the co-location count matrix provides user-level DP. We evaluate our synthesizer using two real datasets. Our experimental results show that our synthesizer preserves co-locations and other statistical features while providing DP with reasonable privacy budgets, e.g., 0.2-node DP and 2-user-level DP.