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CMU professor to become FTC's chief technologist

| Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015, 4:27 p.m.
Lorrie Cranor.

A Carnegie Mellon University professor and expert in human factors in Internet security will be the Federal Trade Commission's next chief technologist.

Lorrie Faith Cranor, 44, a professor of computer science and engineering and public policy, will join the FTC in January. The FTC works to protect consumers by preventing business practices that are deceptive or unfair.

“It is a completely different job. There is an opportunity to affect public policy,” Cranor said Thursday.

Cranor directs the CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory at CMU. She was previously a researcher at AT&T Labs Research and taught at the Stern School of Business at New York University.

At CMU, Cranor's research has largely focused on privacy policies and passwords.

Internet privacy policies are usually elaborate and legalistic, she said. Cranor said she would like privacy policies to be as simple as a nutrition label.

She also has worked at developing passwords that are easy to use and more secure.

“Companies add more rules, which does not always make websites more secure,” she said.

Cranor has written more than 150 research papers on online privacy and security. She also is co-director of Carnegie Mellon's Privacy Engineering master's program.

“Technology is playing an ever more important role in consumers' lives, whether through mobile devices, personal fitness trackers or the increasing array of Internet-connected devices we find in homes and elsewhere,” FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement.

Cranor expects her FTC appointment to last a year or two and said she will return to CMU. The position does not require confirmation.

She holds a doctorate in engineering and policy; master's degrees in computer science and technology and human affairs; and a bachelor's degree in engineering and public policy. All are from Washington University in St. Louis.

Rick Wills is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7944 or at

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