US security guards delete Google, Metas submarine cables • The Register

Security agencies in the United States have recommended that the FCC approve the commissioning of a mega-submarine cable from the US to APAC, the Pacific Light Cable Network, after Google and Meta signed an agreement promising China-based Pacific Light Restrict Data Communications The “Access to Information and Infrastructure” of Co Ltd.

Panoramic view of Taiwan’s beautiful north coast, Toucheng, one of the PLCN landing points

The Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) consists of 11,806 km of fiber and has a capacity of 120 Tbit / s, which makes it the trans-Pacific route with the highest capacity. Google said at the beginning of the project that PLCN “will bring lower latency, more security and more bandwidth to Google users in the APAC region”.

Google, Meta, and China-based Pacific Light Data Communications Co Ltd (PLDC) are all part of the PLCN cable consortium.

In a DoJ statement last week, state agencies said their precautionary measures were due to “continued efforts” by China to “obtain sensitive personal information from millions of US people”.

The Department of Justice, Defense and Homeland Security (DHS) – all members of the Committee on Assessing Foreign Participations in U.S. Telecommunications and Services (which ridiculously called itself Team Telecom) – said Meta and Google agreed to a security deal that paving the way for authorities to recommend that the FCC license them to operate the cable, which contains six pairs of fibers and will handle some of the growing Internet traffic between APAC and the US.

PLCN currently has landings in Baler Bay in the Philippines, Toucheng in Taiwan and El Segundo, California on the west coast of the US.

First announced in 2016, the submarine cable would have been the first direct link from Hong Kong to the US, but the consortium rejected an application to land a cable near the eastern Pearl River Delta in August 2020.

PLDC is the project’s largest funder, and the US has raised concerns that it could be more easily influenced by China after real estate king Wei Junkang sold the company to Beijing-based broadband provider Dr. Peng Telecom & Media Group was sold. Dr Peng has ties to Chinese government firms as well as Huawei, which is currently in the midst of a year-long battle with the US, which put it on the Department of Commerce’s entity list in May 2019, restricting the export of hardware and software from the US Organizations, unless expressly authorized.

Google and Facebook last year [PDF] asked the FCC for permission to switch the section of the PLCN between the US and the Philippines and Taiwan, which means that its section in Hong Kong is dormant. Friday’s statement means the Feds will give their okay.

“These agreements allow Google and Meta to leverage critical additional cable capacity while protecting the privacy and security of US individuals through conditions that reflect the current threat landscape,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Department of Justice’s national security division on Friday .

US security agencies said the couple (not mentioned, among others) had agreed to “seek diversification of connection points in Asia, including but not limited to Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam”.

Meta told The registry: “We are encouraged by the government recommendation to approve our use of the PLCN submarine cable system to connect the United States with the Philippines.

“This cable system increases the internet capacity between the two countries … Our approach is to build state-of-the-art, secure undersea cables with all data that moves through them protected by advanced encryption.” ®

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