The US government has agreed to Google and Meta's request to use an undersea data cable to connect to Asia
On Friday, the Biden administration recommended that Alphabet's Google and Facebook parent Meta be granted permission to use an undersea cable system to handle rising Internet traffic from Asia. The administration urged the FCC to grant the companies licenses to send and receive data over the existing 8,000-mile Pacific Light Cable Network. The United States, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Hong Kong are all connected by an undersea fiber-optic cable system.
Nearly all of the world's Internet data traffic is transmitted via submarine cables. Google has requested permission to connect to Taiwan, while Meta has requested permission to use the Phillipines-to-United States portion.
The companies agreed to safeguard the privacy and security of Americans' personal information, particularly against Chinese intelligence operations.
Google and Meta's plan scrapped a previous proposal to use the network's cable to reach Beijing-controlled Hong Kong. Several US government agencies have recommended that the plan be halted in 2020.
Given China's "sustained efforts to acquire the sensitive personal data of millions of US persons," the Justice Department said the national security agreements with Google and Meta were necessary.
Google stated that the data connections would be required by 2020 to handle increased traffic between its data centers in Taiwan and the United States.
According to a Meta spokesperson, the "cable system" between the United States and the Philippines "increases Internet capacity" to "help people stay connected and share content." According to the company, the cables are secure, and data is protected using advanced encryption.
Google and Meta must conduct annual risk assessments of sensitive data, and they must be able to restrict or stop data traffic on the cables within 24 hours, according to the agreements.
Around 300 subsea cables make up the Internet's backbone, carrying 99 percent of all data traffic.