Models and Mechanisms for Fairness in Location Data Processing

by   Sina Shaham, et al.

Location data use has become pervasive in the last decade due to the advent of mobile apps, as well as novel areas such as smart health, smart cities, etc. At the same time, significant concerns have surfaced with respect to fairness in data processing. Individuals from certain population segments may be unfairly treated when being considered for loan or job applications, access to public resources, or other types of services. In the case of location data, fairness is an important concern, given that an individual's whereabouts are often correlated with sensitive attributes, e.g., race, income, education. While fairness has received significant attention recently, e.g., in the case of machine learning, there is little focus on the challenges of achieving fairness when dealing with location data. Due to their characteristics and specific type of processing algorithms, location data pose important fairness challenges that must be addressed in a comprehensive and effective manner. In this paper, we adapt existing fairness models to suit the specific properties of location data and spatial processing. We focus on individual fairness, which is more difficult to achieve, and more relevant for most location data processing scenarios. First, we devise a novel building block to achieve fairness in the form of fair polynomials. Then, we propose two mechanisms based on fair polynomials that achieve individual fairness, corresponding to two common interaction types based on location data. Extensive experimental results on real data show that the proposed mechanisms achieve individual location fairness without sacrificing utility.


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