Distinguished Lecture

Who Benefits from the Data Economy?

2023-09-21T10:10:00 - 2023-09-21T11:30:00
Thursday, September 21, 2023
10:10 am - 11:30 am

Alessandro Acquisti

Remote video URL

In the public debate around privacy and the data economy, several claims have been made concerning the benefits that multiple stakeholders may accrue from the collection and analysis of consumer data. How many of those claims are empirically validated by independent research? I will review prior work and present a series of ongoing studies that aim at understanding and estimating how the economic value extracted from consumer data is being allocated to different stakeholders, and the way privacy protection may influence those allocations.


Alessandro Acquisti is the Trustees Professor of Information Technology and Public Policy at the Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University. His research combines economics, behavioral research, and data mining to investigate the role of privacy in a digital society. His studies have promoted the revival of the economics of privacy, advanced the application of behavioral economics to the understanding of consumer privacy valuations and decision-making, and spearheaded the investigation of privacy and personal disclosures in online social networks.

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 across journals and conferences. His studies have been published in journals across multiple disciplines, including Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Journal of Economic Literature, Management Science, Marketing Science, Journal of Consumer Research, and Journal of Experimental Psychology. His research has been featured in media outlets around the world, 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 behaviour have been viewed over 1.5 million times.

He has received a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley School of Information, and master’s 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).

Last updated: October 17, 2023