US government calls for Google and Meta to operate US-APAC undersea cable

The US government requested the FCC permit Google and Meta to operate an undersea cable system for the growing internet traffic with Asia. The US government’s recommendation was based on concerns around the Chinese government’s efforts to acquire US citizen personal data. The Departments of Justice (DOJ), Defense (DOD), and Homeland Security (DHS) made an agreement with both companies to protect data on the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) system, an undersea fibre optic cable system that will connect the US, Taiwan and Philippines.

The government recommended to the FCC that any operating license for the PLCN system be in compliance with National Security Agreements. The National Security Agreements are justified by the current national security environment, said the DOJ. The DOJ added that market changes have transformed subsea cable infrastructure into increasingly data-rich environments that are vulnerable to exploitation.

The companies have agreed to conduct annual risk assessments for data that transits the PLCN cable system, including data that exits the cable. They also agreed to pursue diversification of interconnection points in Asia, including in Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Philippines. Access to information and infrastructure will be restricted by Pacific Light Data Communications, the Hong Kong-based owner of PLCN that withdrew its application for an FCC license.