In brief: The US government is reportedly looking to block the undersea data cable backed by Facebook and Google that stretches between Los Angeles and Hong Kong.
According to the Wall Street Journal, a multi-agency review panel led by the Justice Department called Team Telecom is opposed to the cable because of national security concerns.
Plans for the 8,000-mile Pacific Light Cable Network were revealed back in 2016. In addition to Facebook and Google, its construction is being backed Chinese telco Dr. Peng Telecom & Media Group Co.
Relations between the US and China continue to be strained, and with Team Telecom believing Dr. Peng has ties to the country’s government, the agency could reject a license application to operate the cable, which would be the first time a cable has been denied over national security concerns.
Dr. Peng’s chairman, Yang Xueping, is a former Shenzhen government official, and subsidiaries of the company have worked on Chinese government projects including the construction of a fiber-optic surveillance network on behalf of Beijing’s police. The ongoing troubles in Hong Kong aren’t helping matters, either.
Most of the cable has already been installed, and its commercial services are expected to launch near the end of this year, though the temporary license for its construction expires in September. Should the US grant a license to operate, it could come with several restrictions to ensure Chinese agents, and those from other countries, can’t access or interfere with the data flowing through it.