Carnegie Mellon University

Alessandro  Acquisti

Alessandro Acquisti

Professor of Information Technology and Public Policy, Heinz College, CMU


The inaugural faculty director of the Digital Transformation and Innovation Center, Alessandro Acquisti is a professor of information technology and public policy at Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and an Andrew Carnegie Fellow (inaugural class). He is the director of the Peex (Privacy Economics Experiments) lab at CMU and the co-director of CMU CBDR (Center for Behavioral and Decision Research).

Acquisti investigates the economics of privacy. His studies have spearheaded the investigation of privacy and disclosure behavior in online social networks, and the application of behavioral economics to the study of privacy and information security decision-making. Acquisti’s studies have been published in journals across several disciplines, including Science, Journal of Economic Literature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Management Science, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, Marketing Science, Information Systems Research, Journal of Comparative Economics and ACM Transactions. He has also edited books and conference proceedings and presented numerous keynotes. 

Acquisti has been the recipient of the PET Award for Outstanding Research in Privacy Enhancing Technologies, the IBM Best Academic Privacy Faculty Award, the Heinz College School of Information's Teaching Excellence Award and multiple Best Paper awards. His research has been supported by awards and grants from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s TransCoop Programme, Microsoft and Google. He has testified before the U.S. Senate and House committees on issues related to privacy policy and consumer behavior, and has been invited frequently to consult on privacy policy issues by government bodies including the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). His findings have been featured in national and international media outlets, including The Economist, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Financial Times, The New Yorker,, NPR, CNN and 60 Minutes. His 2009 study on the predictability of Social Security numbers was featured in the “Year in Ideas” issue of the New York Times Magazine. (The SSN assignment scheme was changed by the U.S. Social Security Administration in 2011.) 

Acquisti holds a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, and Master's degrees from UC Berkeley, the London School of Economics and Trinity College Dublin. While at Berkeley, he interned at Xerox PARC and Riacs, NASA Ames. He has held visiting positions at the Universities of Rome, Paris and Freiburg (visiting professor), Harvard University (visiting scholar), the University of Chicago (visiting fellow), Microsoft Research (visiting researcher) and Google (visiting scientist). He has been a member of the National Academies’ Committee on Public Response to Alerts and Warnings Using Social Media, and has been a TED Global speaker.