News in Brief

Professors explore digital privacy issues and policy

A new study published by Carnegie Mellon professors found that people are often influenced by others when deciding what, and how much, they disclose online.

The study, published in Science by Carnegie Mellon professors Alessandro Acquisti, Laura Brandimarte, and George Loewenstein examines the key privacy issues facing people and their behaviors in the modern age, and makes recommendations for policy responses.

The study pinpointed three findings regarding people’s perceptions and actions with respect to privacy issues: often being uncertain about the consequences of their privacy-related choices, the level of concern about privacy being context-dependent, and influences by companies and government which can make people’s privacy concerns malleable.

For example, people do not understand the consequences of sharing a family milestone or are not sure about their own privacy preferences, according to the release.

In terms of malleability, the study cited, among other examples, the idea that people let other forces, like website administrators, make choices about their privacy, making their concerns flexible dependent upon who suggests the privacy settings to them.

The authors concluded that policy approaches which focus exclusively on informing individuals of the privacy risks faced when using technology are not adequate, and should instead focus on attaining a better balance of power among individual people, governments, and companies using their digital data.

CMU partners to create Humanities Festival

Carnegie Mellon has announced that it is partnering with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust to launch the first Pittsburgh Humanities Festival.

Scheduled for March 26–29, the Humanities Festival will focus on the theme “Smart Talk About Stuff That Matters” and will be hosted in various locations throughout Pittsburgh’s Cultural District and surrounding neighborhoods.

“The festival will demonstrate the humanities — broadly defined as knowledge of humankind and its works — are stimulating, entertaining and vital to the life of the community,” said professor of English and Director of Carnegie Mellon’s Humanities Center David Shumway in a university press release.

Carnegie Mellon and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust provided details of a vision for the Humanities Festival in a roundtable on Jan. 28. Tickets for the Pittsburgh Humanities Festival will go on sale Feb. 16.