Aynne Kokas is an assistant professor of media studies at the University of Virginia. Kokas’ research examines Sino-US media and technology relations. Her book Hollywood Made in China (University of California Press, 2017) argues that Chinese investment and regulations have transformed the US commercial media industry, most prominently in the case of media conglomerates’ leverage of global commercial brands. Her project at the Wilson Center, Border Control on the Digital Frontier: China, the United States and the Global Battle for Data Security, examines the cybersecurity policy implications of the Sino-US data trade. She is a non-resident scholar at Rice University’s Baker Institute of Public Policy, a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a fellow in the National Committee on United States-China Relations’ Public Intellectuals Program. Her writing and commentary appear regularly in media outlets including the BBC, CNBC, NPR’s Marketplace, The Washington Post, and Wired.

Project Summary

The Internet once promised the free and open flow of data across borders, but the demands of national sovereignty are increasingly limiting the movement of data between countries. Nowhere is the tension between the free movement and the regulation of data flows more significant than in the Sino-US relationship. Through analyses of corporate case studies, Chinese data regulations, and interview data, I contend that China’s increasing control of the global movement of data draws much of its power from a combination of US investors and the absence of a centralized US media and technology policy. Using cases from the global entertainment, payment, mobility, surveillance, and cybersecurity industries, my project examines how US free market policies ultimately enhance, rather than counteract, Chinese efforts to enact new standards and control the global movement of data.

Major Publications

  • Publication OneHollywood Made in China (University of California Press, 2017)
  • Publication TwoKokas, Aynne, Chuck Tryon, Hugh Gusterson and Josh Braun. “The Freedom Edition: Considering Sony Pictures and ‘The Interview.’” Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 60, no. 4 (2016).
  • Publication ThreeTao, Zhu, Aynne Kokas, Rui Zhang, Daniel S. Cohan, and Dan Wallach. "Inferring Atmospheric Particulate Matter Concentrations from Chinese Social Media Data." PLOS ONE 11, no. 9 (2016), 1-15.