Masters student Yonatan Moskowitz has received the 2012 OII MSc thesis prize for his thesis titled "A Theoretical Model of Externalities in Anonymity Decisions", in which he analyses the broader negative social consequences of giving away personal information. In his thesis Yonatan reveals how people may be too willing to surrender their privacy because they do not account for the effects of their decisions upon the ability of others to remain anonymous — a side-effect that is most likely to be felt by the vulnerable and disenfranchised. Society may therefore benefit from policies that encourage people to be more circumspect about the issue of personal privacy.
Professor Ralph Schroeder, MSc Programme Director, said: "Yonatan's thesis was a model of lucid writing and analysis, particularly in conveying to the non-economist reader how highly abstract economic modelling can have practical implications for e-commerce - and for online privacy generally."
Yonatan said "The finished product may have my name on it, but I owe Galen Sher a great debt for his vicious proofreading, and my supervisor, Dr Greg Taylor, is unsurpassed in his availability and intuition. I entered every one of our (numerous) meetings with a seemingly intractable problem, and always left with a new avenue to explore. But I am honoured most because I know how punishingly impressive my fellow students' theses are. The multidisciplinary environment at the OII encouraged us all to take a critical look at our own fields, and anyone coming out of it with a disciplinary identity intact is surely the stronger for it."
Yonatan received his BA in Economics at Georgetown University, Washington DC. He is now in his first year of his Juris Doctorate (J.D.) degree at Stanford Law School.
The OII accepts up to 20 students a year for its MSc programme in Social Science of the Internet. The programme is designed to provide students with the in-depth understanding of the social science concepts, theories and methods required to undertake and assess rigorous empirical research or policy analysis of Internet-related issues.