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Locally Differentially Private Document Generation Using Zero Shot Prompting


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.