Interval Privacy: A Framework for Privacy-Preserving Data Collection

Jie Ding, Bangjun Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The emerging public awareness and government regulations of data privacy motivate new paradigms of collecting and analyzing data that are transparent and acceptable to data owners. We present a new concept of privacy and corresponding data formats, mechanisms, and theories for privatizing data during data collection. The privacy, named Interval Privacy, enforces the raw data conditional distribution on the privatized data to be the same as its unconditional distribution over a nontrivial support set. Correspondingly, the proposed privacy mechanism will record each data value as a random interval (or, more generally, a range) containing it. The proposed interval privacy mechanisms can be easily deployed through survey-based data collection interfaces, e.g., by asking a respondent whether its data value is within a randomly generated range. Another unique feature of interval mechanisms is that they obfuscate the truth but do not perturb it. Using narrowed range to convey information is complementary to the popular paradigm of perturbing data. Also, the interval mechanisms can generate progressively refined information at the discretion of individuals, naturally leading to privacy-adaptive data collection. We develop different aspects of theory such as composition, robustness, distribution estimation, and regression learning from interval-valued data. Interval privacy provides a new perspective of human-centric data privacy where individuals have a perceptible, transparent, and simple way of sharing sensitive data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2443-2459
Number of pages17
JournalIEEE Transactions on Signal Processing
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
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  • Data collection
  • human-computer interface
  • interval data
  • interval mechanism
  • interval privacy
  • local privacy
  • privacy
  • survey


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