Washington – The Biden administration on Friday recommended Meta, the parent of Alphabet, Google and Facebook, to obtain permission to use an undersea cable system to handle growing internet traffic with Asia.
The administration urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to license companies to send and receive data over the existing 12,875 km (8,000 mile) Pacific Light Cable network. The fiber-optic submarine cable system connects the United States, Taiwan, the Philippines and Hong Kong.
Submarine cables carry almost all Internet data traffic in the world. Meta requested permission to use the Philippines-US portion, while Google requested permission to connect to Taiwan.
The companies are committed to protecting the privacy and security of Americans’ data, especially against Chinese intelligence operations.
Google and Meta’s plan dropped a previous proposal to use network cable to Hong Kong, which is controlled by Beijing. Several US government agencies have recommended blocking this plan in 2020.
The Justice Department said the national security agreements with Google and Meta were necessary given “China’s sustained efforts to acquire the sensitive personal data of millions of Americans.”
The Chinese Embassy in Washington and Google did not immediately comment.
Google said in 2020 that it needed data connections to handle the growing traffic between its data centers in Taiwan and the United States.
A spokesperson for Meta said that “the cable system is increasing internet capacity” between the United States and the Philippines “to help people stay connected and share content.” The cables are secure and the data is protected with advanced encryption, he said. Under the agreements, Google and Meta must perform annual risk assessments for sensitive data, and they must be able to restrict or stop data traffic on cables within 24 hours.
About 300 submarine cables form the backbone of the Internet, carrying 99% of the world’s data traffic.
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