Carnegie Mellon University

Aleecia  McDonald

Aleecia M. McDonald

Assistant Professor of the Practice, Information Networking Institute

Carnegie Mellon University
NASA Ames Research Park
Bldg. 23
Moffett Field, CA 94035-0001


Aleecia M. McDonald, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of the Practice, based at the CMU Silicon Valley campus. She focuses on the public policy issues of Internet privacy, including user expectations for privacy tools, behavioral economics and mental models of privacy, and the efficacy of industry self regulation. She co-chaired the WC3’s Tracking Protection Working Group, which was an effort to establish international standards for a Do Not Track mechanism that users can enable to request enhanced privacy online.

Aleecia’s decade of experience working in software startups adds a practical focus to her academic work, and she was a Senior Privacy Researcher for Mozilla prior to working as Director of Privacy at Stanford. Her findings have been featured in media outlets such as the Washington Post, Ars Technica, and NPR. She has presented findings in testimony to the California Assembly, and contributed to testimony before the United States Senate and the Federal Trade Commission. 


Carnegie Mellon University Engineering & Public Policy Ph.D., 2010.

Carnegie Mellon University Engineering & Public Policy M.S., 2008.

Carnegie Mellon University H. John Heinz School of Public Policy and Management. M.S. in Public Policy and Management with a concentration in Internet Policy, 2006.

Carnegie Mellon University B.A., Professional Writing, 1993.


Aleecia researches topics in Internet privacy and security. She works to contribute to a more coherent picture of how, why, and when people make choices about protecting themselves online, and what that means to them. Aleecia's interests span users' mental models of online interaction, study of and creation of usable tools to support online decision making, and how people learn about and reason about online trust issues. In addition to technical tools, she focus on technically informed policy approaches in standards bodies, regulatory agencies, and legislation in the United States and European Union nations.