US recommends Asia cable approval despite security concerns

20 December 2021 | Saf Malik

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The US government last week recommended that Google and Meta’s undersea data cable to Asia should be approved for use.

The Biden administration has urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to grant licenses for the companies to send and receive data on the existing 8,000 mile Pacific Light Cable Network according to Reuters. 

The undersea cable connects the US to the Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong. 

The two companies have been seeking approval to operate the new cable since August with a prospective launch for the system in late 2022. 

A spokesperson for Meta said in August that "the best path forward to complete the construction and bring the... cable system into operation was to restructure the system ownership, allowing the parties to deliver on the goal of bringing connectivity to more people and regions."

Last year, Google said it needed data connections to handle growing traffic between its data centres in Taiwan and the US, but there have long been doubts over the security of a China to US cable.

Concerns of possible government intervention and the potential for espionage are rife in the US and such cables have been abandoned in the past with one such example being the PLCN cable.

Part owners Google and Facebook asked the FCC in February of last year for permission to activate parts of 8,000 miles PLCN between the US, the Philippines and Taiwan, leaving the sections connecting to Hong Kong dark

However, Meta insists that the cables are secure and the data is protected through advanced encryption and under any agreements, Google and Meta must conduct annual assessments of risk to sensitive data.