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As digital technologies and social media increasingly govern the ways we work and socialize, the business logic that undergirds these digital platforms has become clear: we are their product. We give tech and social media companies information about everything--where we live and work, what we like to do for entertainment, what we consume, where we travel, and what we think politically. 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 streams into the data centers of hostile states. The flow of our data to China in recent years in particular poses grave privacy and national security questions.

Join us on March 13 as we hear from Aynne Kokas, the C.K. Yen Professor at the Miller Center, the Director of the UVA East Asia Center, and an associate professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia, as she argues that both corporations and governments "traffic" much of this data without our consent--and sometimes illegally--for political and financial gain.


  • Aynne Kokas (C.K. Yen Professor at The Miller Center)

    Aynne Kokas

    C.K. Yen Professor at The Miller Center


    Aynne Kokas is the C.K. Yen Professor at the Miller 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, October 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 non-resident scholar at Rice University’s Baker Institute of Public Policy, a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a fellow in the National Committee on United States-China Relations’ Public Intellectuals Program. She has received fellowships from the Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities, Mellon Foundation, Social Science Research Council, Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Japan’s Abe Fellowship, and other international organizations. Her writing and commentary have appeared globally in more than 50 countries and 15 languages. In the United States, her research and writing appear regularly in media outlets including CNBC, NPR’s Marketplace, The Washington Post, and Wired. She has testified before the Senate Finance Committee, House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the U.S. International Trade Commission.

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Preparation Materials

Aynne Kokas Program One-pager.pdfdownload