Alessandro Acquisti is the Trustees Professor of Information Technology and Public Policy at the Heinz
College, Carnegie Mellon University. He is an Andrew Carnegie Fellow (inaugural class), the director of the
PeeX (Privacy Economics Experiments) lab at CMU, a member of the steering committee of CMU’s Center for
Behavioral and Decision Research (CBDR), and the Faculty Chair of the Heinz College’s Master of Science in
Information Security Policy & Management (MISPM) program. He is the current Chair of CMU Institutional
Review Board (IRB). Previously, for four years he was the Faculty Director of the CMU Digital Transformation
and Innovation Center sponsored by PwC (where he managed a multi-million dollar budget to fund CMU research
in areas including analytics, security, and public policy), and the PwC William W. Cooper Professor of Risk
and Regulatory Innovation. Alessandro has been a member of the Board of Regents of the U.S. National Library
of Medicine (NLM), and a member of the U.S. National Academies' Committee on public response to alerts and
warnings using social media.
Alessandro investigates the economics and behavioral economics of privacy and personal data. While completing
his PhD thesis at UC Berkeley, he started contributing to the revival of the research on the economics of
privacy. Upon joining Carnegie Mellon, he spearheaded the application of behavioral economics to the study of
privacy and security decision making, and the investigation of privacy and disclosure behavior in online
social media through the mining and analysis of public profile data. His research in these fields has kept
evolving, including the investigation of nudging and behavioral interventions in the privacy domain, the
study of value creation and surplus allocation in the data economy, and the examination of the economic
impact of novel privacy-preserving analytics. He has published and disseminated interdisciplinary research in
leading journals across diverse fields (including Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science,
Management Science, Journal of Economic Literature, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing
Research, Marketing Science, Information Systems Research, ACM Transactions, and so forth), as well as
through conference proceedings (including USENIX, CHI, CSCW, ACM EC, PETS, SOUPS, and so forth), edited
books, and numerous keynotes.
Alessandro has been the recipient of the PET Award for Outstanding Research in Privacy Enhancing
Technologies, the IBM Best Academic Privacy Faculty Award, the IEEE Cybersecurity Award for Innovation, the
Heinz College School of Information's Teaching Excellence Award, and numerous Best Paper awards (including
best papers awards across journals in the information technology and information systems fields such as
Management Science, MISQ, and Information Systems Research). He has held editorial positions across several
journals and conference committees, including Information Systems Research (Senior Editor) and Management
Science (Associate Editor). His research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation,
the MacArthur Foundation, the Sloan Foundation, DARPA, the Department of Homeland Security, the National
Security Agency, the Transcoop Foundation, Microsoft, and Google. Security education research and tools he
developed with colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University were deployed in the CMU start-up Wombat Security
Technologies, Inc, which was later acquired by Proofpoint.
including the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Council of Economic
Advisers (CEA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the National Telecommunications and Information
Administration (NTIA), and the European Commission.
Alessandro's findings have been featured in national and international media outlets, including the
Economist, the New Yorker, the New York Times and New York Times Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the
Washington Post, the Financial Times, Wired.com, NPR, CNN, and 60 Minutes. His TED talks on privacy and human
behavior have been viewed online over 1.5 million times. His 2009 study on the predictability of Social
Security numbers was featured in the “Year in Ideas” issue of the NYT Magazine (the SSNs assignment scheme
was changed by the US Social Security Administration in 2011). Connecting his research and musical interests,
Alessandro has collaborated as technologist on an interactive musical opera on privacy and surveillance
inspired by his own research on social media, face recognition, and inference of sensitive information from
public data. The opera, titled “Looking at You,” premiered at New York West Village's HERE in 2019, and was
recently awarded a grant by the Sloan Foundation to go on tour across the United States in 2023.
Alessandro holds a PhD from UC Berkeley, and Master degrees from UC Berkeley, the London School of Economics,
and Trinity College Dublin. He has held visiting positions at the Universities of Rome, Paris, and Freiburg
(visiting professor); Harvard University (visiting scholar); University of Chicago (visiting fellow);
Microsoft Research (visiting researcher); and Google (visiting scientist).
In a previous life, Alessandro worked as a classical music producer and a label manager (PPMusic.com) and as
a freelance arranger, a lyrics writer, and a soundtrack composer for theatre, television, and independent
cinema productions (including works for BMG Ariola/Universal and Italy’s RAI 3 national television). He has
raced a Yamaha TZ 125 motorcycle in the USGPRU national championship.