Carnegie Mellon University

To investigate how the availability and deployment of privacy enhancing technologies affect consumer behavior and welfare

  • Amount $333,090
  • City Pittsburgh, PA
  • Investigator Alessandro Acquisti
  • Initiative Behavioral and Regulatory Effects on Decision-making (BRED)
  • Year 2015
  • Program Research
  • Sub-program Economic Institutions, Behavior, & Performance

This grant funds efforts by Allessandro Acquisti at Carnegie Mellon University to examine, through laboratory, online, and field experiments, how Privacy Enhancing Technology (PET) can affect consumer behavior and welfare. Examples of PET tools include ad blockers like Ghostery, surveillance blockers like Tor, and cookie blockers like Beef Taco. Acquisti and his team will have PET software installed on the computers of some experimental subjects and then observe how their online behavior changes relative to a control group. They will then measure and analyze the subsequent differences in consumer behavior, like purchases or sites visited, as well as changes in the prices, products, or search results offered by websites and search engines to the two groups. The work promises to provide valuable new data on how concerns about privacy shape the way we conduct our lives online.

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