Participatory sensing is a process whereby mobile device users (or participants) collect environmental data on behalf of a service provider who can then build a service based upon these data. To attract submissions of such data, the service provider will often need to incentivize potential participants by offering a reward. However, for the privacy conscious, the attractiveness of such rewards may be offset by the fact that the receipt of a reward requires users to either divulge their real identity or provide a traceable pseudonym. An incentivization mechanism must therefore facilitate data submission and rewarding in a way that does not violate participant privacy. This paper presents Privacy-Aware Incentivization (PAI), a decentralized peer-to-peer exchange platform that enables the following: (i) Anonymous, unlinkable and protected data submission; (ii) Adaptive, tunable and incentive-compatible reward computation; (iii) Anonymous and untraceable reward allocation and spending. PAI makes rewards allocated to a participant untraceable and unlinkable and incorporates an adaptive and tunable incentivization mechanism which ensures that real-time rewards reflect current environmental conditions and the importance of the data being sought. The allocation of rewards to data submissions only if they are truthful (i.e., incentive compatibility) is also facilitated in a privacy-preserving manner. The approach is evaluated using proofs and experiments.
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