Cryptographic Techniques for Privacy Preservation

Postgraduate course, IIT Kanpur, Computer Science and Engineering, 2024

About the Course

The last couple of decades have seen a significant proliferation of the Internet in our daily lives. From essential services like banking and health to entertainment like movies and music, have moved online. The Covid-19 pandemic only accelerated these trends. While these trends have made our lives easier and brought great conveniences, it has also resulted in a substantial infringement on the privacy of individuals. Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) are technologies that help protect the privacy of individuals or groups. There are several ways in which PETs can constructed. In this course, we will look at some of the cryptographic approaches to achieving privacy. In particular, some of the topics that will be covered are: (i) Can one stream a movie on, say, Netflix while Netflix has no idea what one watched? (Private Information Retrieval); (ii) Can two millionaires find out who is richer without revealing to each other their wealth (Secure Multi-Party Computation)? (iii) Can you convince your friend that you know a solution to the Graph 3-coloring problem without them learning the 3-coloring or any new information? (Zero Knowledge Proofs); (iv) Can you outsource storage to a remote server and access data from it while all your access patterns are hidden? (Oblivious Random Access Memory).