As digital technologies and social media have evolved into organizing forces for the way in which we conduct our work and social lives, the business logic that undergirds these digital platforms has become clear: We are their product. We give these businesses information about everything — from where we live and work to what we like to do for entertainment. We do this willingly, but often without a full understanding of how this information is stored or used, or what happens to it when it crosses international boundaries. Both corporations and governments "traffic" much of this data without our consent — and sometimes illegally — for political and financial gain.
At this event, China media scholar and media policy expert Aynne Kokas presented research from her new book, “Trafficking Data: How China Is Winning the Battle for Digital Sovereignty.” In the book, Kokas examines how technology firms in the two largest economies in the world, the United States and China, have exploited government policy (and the lack thereof) to gather information on citizens, putting U.S. national security at risk. Kokas discussed how U.S. government leadership failures, Silicon Valley's disruption fetish and Wall Street's addiction to growth have fueled China's technological goldrush. In turn, American complacency has yielded an unprecedented opportunity for Chinese firms to gather data in the United States and quietly send it back to China, and by extension, to the Chinese government. Drawing on years of fieldwork in the U.S. and China and a large trove of corporate and policy documents, Kokas explained how China is fast becoming the global leader in internet governance and policy — with significant control over the data that defines our public and private lives.
Books were available to purchase courtesy of Brazos Bookstore.
5:30 pm — Reception
6:00 pm — Presentation
Registration has closed.
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Aynne Kokas, Ph.D., is a nonresident scholar for the Baker Institute China Studies Program and an associate professor of media studies at the University of Virginia. She is also a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Kokas’ current research focuses on the circulation of U.S. environmental media on Chinese social networks. She also has written extensively about the challenges and opportunities presented by public-private partnerships in Sino-U.S. joint ventures, with particular focus on the media industries. Prior to Rice, Kokas was a project manager at the UCLA Anderson Center for Global Management and a teaching fellow in the flagship Global Environment Program at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. Kokas has been a Fulbright scholar and a Social Science Research Council fellow in Shanghai, a Foreign Language and Area Studies grantee in Taipei, and a Chinese Ministry of Education fellow in Beijing. She also received multiple U.S. Department of Education grants in focusing on Korean language and culture. Fluent in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, Kokas also speaks German and Korean. In addition to conducting research in Sino-U.S. industrial relations, Kokas has also worked as a management consultant focusing on Chinese market entry strategy. She holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. from UCLA.