Aynne Kokas is a multiple-award-winning researcher of US-Asian media and technology relations. Her first book, Hollywood Made in China (University of California Press, 2017), examines the cultural, economic, and political implications of film collaborations between China and the United States. Research for the book was supported by the Social Science Research Council, the Fulbright Foundation, the Chinese Ministry of Education, and others. Her second book, Border Patrol on the Digital Frontier: The Global Battle for Data Security explores the role of data governance in the trade relationships China, Japan, and the United States. Kokas’ research has been supported by the Abe Fellowship, the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, among others. Kokas is currently an assistant professor of media studies at the University of Virginia. She has testified in front of the House Asia-Pacific Subcommittee, is a Public Intellectual Program Fellow of the National Committee on US-China Relations, and her writing and commentary have appeared in over forty-five countries and ten languages.
My book project, Border Patrol on the Digital Frontier: Japan, the United States, and China in The Global Battle for National Data addresses one of the most pressing contemporary, transnational, policy-relevant questions affecting the United States and Japan in the 21st century – China's rapidly increasing influence in the global technology industry. Border Patrol argues that by structuring the storage and limiting the flow of consumer data into and out of its borders, China is defining the relationship between data and the nation in the twenty-first century not just within its borders, but also for key trading partners like Japan and the United States. For my Abe project, I plan to examine two critical competitive areas of consumer data gathering between China and Japan: investment from Japanese firms in Chinese platforms; and investment from Chinese firms in Japanese platforms. In the investment space, Japanese investors like Japanese technology Softbank and its Softbank Vision Fund have transformed the Chinese technology industry through investment in Chinese platforms like the ridesharing service Didi, and Chinese multinational e-commerce, retail, Internet, AI and technology conglomerate, Alibaba. Chinese firms like SenseTime and Alibaba are extending their reach into the Japanese market. The project builds on the research I have done as a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, DC examining investment from US firms into Chinese platforms; and investment from Chinese firms into US platforms. This project will identify how the differing investment strategies of the United States and Japan in China (and vice versa), are shaping the norms of the global technology landscape regarding where data is stored, how it is managed, and how it is used. The project further compares the approaches taken by Chinese, US and Japanese policymakers to protect consumer data. Through comparative analysis of strategies taken by American and Japanese firms, this project will identify through comparative analysis what steps policymakers can make to be able to most effectively contend with increasing Chinese power in global technology investment in both countries. Unlike governments and corporations, consumers typically do not develop or control their proprietary platforms and are thus subject to the standards of institutional stakeholders regarding how their data is stored, secured, and circulated. This means that consumers around the world are caught within a web of international institutional data gathering and sharing. This book will untangle this web for scholars and everyday people to ensure that stakeholders have the tools they need to understand how personal data is generated, stored, and circulated.