Alessandro Acquisti on CNN, July, 2009
What is it that pushes us to seek fame by misconduct or publicity by sharing embarrassing information with strangers? How do we reconcile these desires with the apparent need for privacy that surveys keep finding so widespread among the American population? In short, what drives individuals to reveal, and to hide, information about themselves to and from others? decision-making and promising initial results. They might be able to reconcile the human need for publicity with our ostensible desire for privacy. Nudging Privacy, the Behavioral Economics of Personal Information, IEEE Security and Privacy, November-December 2009
Our cashless, information-sharing society has made identity theft easier and far more common than ever before. New research conducted by Alessandro Acquisti (Carnegie Mellon University) shows how thieves can accurately guess your Social Security number with a few easily obtainable facts. At this science café, Acquisti will have a conversation with the audience about his findings and their ideas for protecting privacy in an increasingly public world. The Dish: It's All in the Numbers - Privacy, Math, and Social Security, Koshland Science Museum Science Cafe, 1-20-10
Read Alessandro Acquisti on Nudging Privacy (IEEE Security & Privacy), Hear Him Speak, 1/20/10, at National Academy of Science's Koshland Museum
CyLab researcher Alessandro Acquisti rocked the realms of privacy and security in 2009, with the release of his blockbuster paper on predicting social security numbers (co-authored with Ralph Goss, also of Carnegie Mellon).
If you don't remember the story, or happened to be taking core samples at the North Pole during that news cycle, see There is an Elephant in the Room; & Everyone’s Social Security Numbers are Written on Its Hide and Not Just Yesterday's Headlines, But the Day After Tomorrow's As Well for a refresher.
News of the two researchers' revelations even made it through the overgrown thicket that insulates the halls of government from the outside world; see Significant Contribution of Carnegie Mellon Privacy Research Cited in Congressional Hearing.
Well, just to keep you current --
In the November-December 2009 issue of IEEE's Security and Privacy, Acqusti published a paper entitled "Nudging Privacy, the Behavioral Economics of Personal Information."
Here is a brief excerpt, followed by a link to a .pdf of the full text:
The idea behind soft paternalism is to design systems so that they enhance (and sometimes influence) individual choice to increase individual and societal welfare. To do so, behavioral economists might even design systems to “nudge” individuals, sometimes exploiting the very fallacies and biases they uncover, turning them around in ways that don’t diminish users’ freedom but offer them the option of more informed choices. Hence, nudging privacy—that is, using soft paternalism to address and improve security and privacy decisions—might be an appealing concept for policy makers and technology designers. This concept goes beyond concurrent attempts at making our computer systems more “usable.” Alessandro Acquisti, IEEE Security and Privacy, November-December 2009
If you are in Washington, D.C. on January 20, 2010, you can join Alessandro Acquisti at the National Academy of Science's Koshland Science Museum's Science Cafe, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., for his talk on The Dish: It's All in the Numbers - Privacy, Math, and Social Security. This program will be held in collaboration with Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-334-1201, including number of guests.
-- Richard Power