Differentially Private Decoupled Graph Convolutions for Multigranular Topology Protection

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Eli Chien, Wei-Ning Chen, Chao Pan, Pan Li, Ayfer Ozgur, Olgica Milenkovic


Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) have proven to be highly effective in solving real-world learning problems that involve graph-structured data. However, GNNs can also inadvertently expose sensitive user information and interactions through their model predictions. To address these privacy concerns, Differential Privacy (DP) protocols are employed to control the trade-off between provable privacy protection and model utility. Applying standard DP approaches to GNNs directly is not advisable due to two main reasons. First, the prediction of node labels, which relies on neighboring node attributes through graph convolutions, can lead to privacy leakage. Second, in practical applications, the privacy requirements for node attributes and graph topology may differ. In the latter setting, existing DP-GNN models fail to provide multigranular trade-offs between graph topology privacy, node attribute privacy, and GNN utility. To address both limitations, we propose a new framework termed Graph Differential Privacy (GDP), specifically tailored to graph learning. GDP ensures both provably private model parameters as well as private predictions. Additionally, we describe a novel unified notion of graph dataset adjacency to analyze the properties of GDP for different levels of graph topology privacy. Our findings reveal that DP-GNNs, which rely on graph convolutions, not only fail to meet the requirements for multigranular graph topology privacy but also necessitate the injection of DP noise that scales at least linearly with the maximum node degree. In contrast, our proposed Differentially Private Decoupled Graph Convolutions (DPDGCs) represent a more flexible and efficient alternative to graph convolutions that still provides the necessary guarantees of GDP. To validate our approach, we conducted extensive experiments on seven node classification benchmarking and illustrative synthetic datasets. The results demonstrate that DPDGCs significantly outperform existing DP-GNNs in terms of privacy-utility trade-offs.