Privacy Preserving Location Data Publishing: A Machine Learning Approach

Sina Shaham, Ming Ding, Bo Liu, Shuping Dang, Zihuai Lin, Jun Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Publishing datasets plays an essential role in open data research and promoting transparency of government agencies. However, such data publication might reveal users' private information. One of the most sensitive sources of data is spatiotemporal trajectory datasets. Unfortunately, merely removing unique identifiers cannot preserve the privacy of users. Adversaries may know parts of the trajectories or be able to link the published dataset to other sources for the purpose of user identification. Therefore, it is crucial to apply privacy preserving techniques before the publication of spatiotemporal trajectory datasets. In this paper, we propose a robust framework for the anonymization of spatiotemporal trajectory datasets termed as machine learning based anonymization (MLA). By introducing a new formulation of the problem, we are able to apply machine learning algorithms for clustering the trajectories and propose to use k-means algorithm for this purpose. A variation of k-means algorithm is also proposed to preserve the privacy in overly sensitive datasets. Moreover, we improve the alignment process by considering multiple sequence alignment as part of the MLA. The framework and all the proposed algorithms are applied to T-Drive, Geolife, and Gowalla location datasets. The experimental results indicate a significantly higher utility of datasets by anonymization based on MLA framework.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-1
Number of pages1
JournalIEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering
StatePublished - 2020


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