ConfounderGAN: Protecting Image Data Privacy with Causal Confounder

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Qi Tian, Kun Kuang, Kelu Jiang, Furui Liu, Zhihua Wang, Fei Wu


The success of deep learning is partly attributed to the availability of massive data downloaded freely from the Internet. However, it also means that users' private data may be collected by commercial organizations without consent and used to train their models. Therefore, it's important and necessary to develop a method or tool to prevent unauthorized data exploitation. In this paper, we propose ConfounderGAN, a generative adversarial network (GAN) that can make personal image data unlearnable to protect the data privacy of its owners. Specifically, the noise produced by the generator for each image has the confounder property. It can build spurious correlations between images and labels, so that the model cannot learn the correct mapping from images to labels in this noise-added dataset. Meanwhile, the discriminator is used to ensure that the generated noise is small and imperceptible, thereby remaining the normal utility of the encrypted image for humans. The experiments are conducted in six image classification datasets, including three natural object datasets and three medical datasets. The results demonstrate that our method not only outperforms state-of-the-art methods in standard settings, but can also be applied to fast encryption scenarios. Moreover, we show a series of transferability and stability experiments to further illustrate the effectiveness and superiority of our method.