CityU's Google Policy Fellowship was the first of its kind in Asia that aimed to advance research and debate on Internet policy and freedom of speech issues in the Greater China region. In collaboration with Google, the Center for Communication Research (CCR) and the Department of Media and Communication (COM) of the City University of Hong Kong hosted the research fellowship program in the summers of 2011 and 2012. Google sponsored US$7,500 for a minimum of 10 weeks from June to August for the fellowship winner to pursue a study at the CCR and COM.
The fellowship was anchored in the reality of the growing threat to civil liberties in cyberspace, with the consequent curbs on free expression that arise. The aim of the research is to chart out a comprehensive map of the legal and policy frameworks relating to free expression within the Greater China region with a specific focus on the societal and/or behavioral impact of relevant laws and policies from a social scientific perspective. The research would involve the effects of public policies in the Greater China on Internet users' perceptions, attitudes, and/or behaviors related to issues such as freedom of expression, civic engagement, intellectual property, and personal privacy.
The fellows had access to leading scholars of media and communication here. Our invitation of applications attracted tremendous interests and numbers of applications from all over the world. Applications came from Europe, North America, South Asia, to Greater China.
The competition for this distinguished fellowship was keen. In 2011, Henry Hu (a doctoral student of law at the University of Hong Kong) was the first Google policy fellow in Hong Kong. His research work during the fellowship was to address an important dimension of Internet regulation in China--evolutionary trajectory of Internet infrastructure. He tried to trace the fast development of the infrastructure and immature regulation regime since the Internet was introduced into China in 1994. He questioned whether China is increasingly centralized the regulation of various layers and resources to control the Internet and what the future regulators should do to deal with the growth of the Internet. After he finished his fellowship study, he presented a research seminar at the University and attracted a huge audience.
The second Google policy fellow came from Michigan. Sonya Song was a doctoral student at the Michigan State University. With her computer science background, she worked as a journalist focusing on Internet, online media and technology sectors. Her fellowship study was concerned with China's censorship of professional news websites. She tried to track down the scale and mechanism of online news censorship and propagandist efforts by the Chinese Internet censors. Her research seminar took place in September 2012.
CCR and COM aspire to advance research and education on new media and communication. We look forward to cooperating with internationally leading organizations to achieve this goal and address pressing issues of the new media.