Skip to content


Your personal data is being used to fight COVID-19, but the data market needs transparency

The Hill |April 20, 2020 | Susan Ariel Aaronson & Patrick Leblond

Personal data has become essential both to mitigate COVID-19 and to rescue our slowing economy. For example, Google is using its large trove of personal data to track the effectiveness of social distancing. Firms are also using personal data to supply us with goods and services from toilet paper to in-home meetings. Meanwhile, policymakers are using personal data to provide individuals with stimulus checks and unemployment insurance. Governmental bodies are also teaming up with data-sector firms to direct users to testing clinics, inform the public about COVD-19 disinformation or feed workers on the frontlines...

Data Is Dangerous: Comparing the Risks That the United States, Canada and Germany See in Data Troves

CIGI | April 15, 2020 | Susan Ariel Aaronson

From posting photos and videos to tracking physical activity, apps can do almost anything, but while they may seem like harmless fun, they may also pose a threat to personal data and national security. This paper compares the different responses of the United States, Canada and Germany to data risks posed by popular apps such as FaceApp, Facebook, Strava, TikTok and ToTok. These apps and many others store troves of personal data that can be hacked and misused, putting users (and the countries in which they live) at risk...

Inadequate data protection: A threat to economic and national security

Vox EU | February 5, 2020 | Susan Ariel Aaronson

Individuals, citizens and firms have become increasingly dependent on data-driven services such as artificial intelligence and apps, and the same is true of defence and national security officials. This column argues that the US failure to adequately govern how firms use and monetise data affects national security in many ways. It also examines specific examples of the misuse of data and assesses the responses by the US and the EU...

Targeting TikTok, Grindr and FaceApp is not enough – the US needs to lay down the law on data privacy for tech firms

South China Morning Post | January 26, 2020 | Susan Ariel Aaronson

US intelligence and defence officials are increasingly concerned about foreign access to troves of personal data sets. This month, the US Treasury announced new regulations to limit foreign investment in companies that provide data-driven services. Policymakers fear some foreign firms might share that data with adversaries or use it in ways that threaten individuals and the nation...

Video: Trump admin touts two trade deals

NBCNews | January 17, 2020 | Susan Ariel Aaronson

A phase one trade deal with China and the USMCA are being celebrated by the Trump administration as big wins for the economy. Susan Aaronson breaks down the trade deal with China and what it means for the trade war.

Data Governance, AI, and Trade: Asia as a Case Study

November 2019 | Susan Ariel Aaronson

Open Forum: The U.S. is missing its chance to be a global leader on artificial intelligence

SFChronicle | October 3, 2019 | Susan Ariel Aaronson

On September 9, the White House hosted a Summit on Artificial Intelligence to discuss how the U.S. government might use AI to improve government services. The U.S. is not alone. Many governments, including China, India, Canada and Germany see AI as key to their future growth and development...

The Trump administration’s approach to artificial intelligence is not that smart: it’s about cooperation, not domination

South China Morning Post | October 7, 2019 | Susan Ariel Aaronson

The White House hosted a summit on artificial intelligence last month, to discuss how the US government might use AI to improve its services. The US is not alone; many governments see AI as key to their future growth and development...

Open Forum: How Congress can rein in Trump’s trade tantrums

San Francisco Chronicle | August 12, 2019 | Susan Ariel Aaronson

The Trump administration’s labeling of China as a currency manipulator and its escalation of tariffs on Chinese products are reminders that the United States has transformed from the world’s leading advocate of rules-based trade agreements into a protectionist bully. Yet President Trump’s tariffs do nothing to improve the competitiveness of the firms he’s protecting. Moreover, they undermine trust in the United States as a reliable partner and could plunge many nations into recession... 

Data Is a Development Issue

CIGI Papers Series | July 24, 2019 |Susan Ariel Aaronson

Many wealthy states are transitioning to a new economy built on data. Individuals and firms in these states have expertise in using data to create new goods and services as well as in how to use data to solve complex problems. Other states may be rich in data but do not yet see their citizens’ personal data or their public data as an asset. Most states are learning how to govern and maintain trust in the data-driven economy; however, many developing countries are not well positioned to govern data in a way that encourages development. Meanwhile, some 76 countries are developing rules and exceptions to the rules governing cross-border data flows as part of new negotiations on e-commerce. This paper uses a wide range of metrics to show that most developing and middle-income countries are not ready or able to provide an environment where their citizens’ personal data is protected and where public data is open and readily accessible. Not surprisingly, greater wealth is associated with better scores on all the metrics. Yet, many industrialized countries are also struggling to govern the many different types and uses of data. The paper argues that data governance will be essential to development, and that donor nations have a responsibility to work with developing countries to improve their data governance...

Open Forum: A leader in profiting from data, America lags in protecting our information

San Francisco Chronicle | July 11, 2019 | Susan Ariel Aaronson & David Morar

The United States has a commanding lead in the data-driven economy, in which firms collect, analyze and monetize data to solve complex problems and create new goods and services. Many of the largest data-driven firms were created and are headquartered here, and U.S. companies are also at the forefront of new data-based services such as autonomous vehicles, personalized health care and personal assistants such as Siri and Alexa...

America's uneven approach to AI and its consequences

 Foreign Policy Association | February 2019 | Susan Ariel Aaronson

Data Is Different: Why the World Needs a New Approach to Governing Cross-border Data Flows

CIGI Papers Series | November 14, 2018 |Susan Ariel Aaronson

Information Please: A Comprehensive Approach to Digital Trade Provisions in NAFTA 2.0

CIGI Papers Series | November 13, 2017 | Susan Ariel Aaronson 

GW is committed to digital accessibility. If you experience a barrier that affects your ability to access content on this page, let us know via the Accessibility Feedback Form.