Saiteja Utpala, Sara Hooker, Pin Yu Chen
Numerous studies have highlighted the privacy risks associated with pretrained large language models. In contrast, our research offers a unique perspective by demonstrating that pretrained large language models can effectively contribute to privacy preservation. We propose a locally differentially private mechanism called DP-Prompt, which leverages the power of pretrained large language models and zero-shot prompting to counter author de-anonymization attacks while minimizing the impact on downstream utility. When DP-Prompt is used with a powerful language model like ChatGPT (gpt-3.5), we observe a notable reduction in the success rate of deanonymization attacks, showing that it surpasses existing approaches by a considerable margin despite its simpler design. For instance, in the case of the IMDB dataset, DP-Prompt (with ChatGPT) perfectly recovers the clean sentiment F1 score while achieving a 46% reduction in author identification F1 score against static attackers and a 26% reduction against adaptive attackers. We conduct extensive experiments across six open-source large language models, ranging up to 7 billion parameters, to analyze various effects of the privacy-utility tradeoff.