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Aynne Kokas on Trafficking Data

Join us for Aynne Kokas's discussion of the global battle for control over and use of the personal and institutional data we create every day.

February 15, 2023 4:00pm

Time: Wednesday, February 15, 2023 4-6pm (PST)
Location: SCA 112 (George Lucas Building), University of Southern California (D-3 on this map)

In 2020, the Trump Administration issued a ban on TikTok in the United States, requiring that the owner—Beijing-based Bytedance—sell the company to American investors or shut it down. American suitors like Walmart and Oracle tried to make a deal with Bytedance to keep the platform operating in the U.S., but the Chinese government refused the sale on national security grounds. TikTok’s American headquarters are here in Culver City, a new media hub in Los Angeles.

In her new book, Trafficking Data: How China is Winning the Battle for Digital Sovereignty, 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, putting US national security at risk. Kokas argues that 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 yields an unprecedented opportunity for Chinese firms to gather data in the United States and quietly send it back to the Chinese government who capitalize on this data for political gain.

In Trafficking Data, Aynne Kokas:

    - Looks at urgent questions about social media, technology, and privacy globally
    - Drawing on years of insider fieldwork in the United States and China, Kokas shows how data exploitation is used for commercial profit and political gain in trade between the U.S. and China
     - Explores the international consequences of U.S. companies and government having ignored data regulation in favor of the explosive and unchecked growth of Silicon Valley
    - Argues that China is emerging as the major shaper of global information and technology governance, in part through the United States' lack of attention to internet policy
    - Makes recommendations to mitigate economic and security issues resulting from the data trade between the US and China

Aynne Kokas is an Associate Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia and the C.K. Yen Chair at the University of Virginia's Miller Center. For over twenty years she has researched trade between the US and Chinese markets. She is the author of the award-winning book Hollywood Made in China. Her research has been featured in The New York Times, NPR, BBC World News, the Financial Times, Slate, and Bloomberg. Click here for Prof. Kokas’s Hollywood book interview with USCI, here for her full book talk and here for her participation in a USCI roundtable discussion on Hollywood’s evolving relationship with China.

Cosponsored by the USC U.S.-China Institute, the USC School of Cinematic Arts and the USC East Asian Studies Center.

Free, but space is limited.