Game-theoretic Approaches to Data Privacy

The personal data of individuals is a key driver of the internet economy.

Online service providers, including websites and mobile apps, collect personal data in order to enable targeted services, as well as targeted online advertisements tailored to individual users. Such advertisement slots are often auctioned by service providers in online ad exchanges where third-party advertisers receive information about the user from the service provider via the ad exchange before bidding on the ad slot. In such a scenario, there are natural strategic tradeoffs for all of the participants involved regarding the quantity & quality of personal data that they should provide, collect, and share with other parties. This project aims to develop game-theoretic models for understanding the role of data privacy in the strategic interactions in these and related contexts, and to develop mechanisms that participants can employ in order to balance the competing imperatives of data privacy, the enabling of targeted services and ads, and the incentivization of user participation.