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Wednesday, February 15 | 4:00PM-6:00PM | SCA 112 | FLYER

Book talk: Trafficking Data: How China is Winning the Battle for Digital Sovereignty (Oxford, 2022)

Professor Aynne Kokas, University of Virginia

In Trafficking Data, Aynne Kokas looks at 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. Kokas argues that US 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 yields 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 case studies from rapidly growing areas of global media investment like social media apps TikTok, WeChat, and Grindr, and gaming platforms like Fortnite, Trafficking Data explains how China is fast becoming the global leader in internet governance and policy, and thus of the data that defines our public and private lives.


Aynne Kokas is the C.K. Yen Professor at the Miller Center, the director of the University of Virginia East Asia Center, and an associate professor of media studies at the University of Virginia. Kokas’ research examines Sino-U.S. media and technology relations. Her book Trafficking Data: How China is Winning the Battle for Digital Sovereignty (Oxford University Press, 2022) argues that exploitative Silicon Valley data governance practices help China build infrastructures for global control. Her award-winning first book Hollywood Made in China (University of California Press, 2017) argues that Chinese investment and regulations have transformed the U.S. commercial media industry, most prominently in the case of media conglomerates’ leverage of global commercial brands. Kokas is a fellow in the National Committee on United States-China Relations’ Public Intellectuals Program, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Her writing and commentary have appeared in over 50 countries and 16 languages.

Co-sponsored by the Division of Cinema and Media Studies, the U.S.-China Institute, East Asian Studies Center, and Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

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  • Kirt Patel
  • Christian Becker

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