- Google and Facebook on Thursday withdrew plans to connect LA and Hong Kong with an 8,000-mile internet broadband cable.
- The cable is already laid and was built to be part of the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN), a project announced in 2016 to connect the US with Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Philippines.
- A DOJ committee formally recommended in July that the Hong Kong part of the network be iced on national security grounds.
- Mike Pompeo in August launched the Trump administration’s “Clean Network Initiative,” which aims to seal off large chunks of China’s internet from the US.
- Google said the firms have resubmitted applications for the US-Philippines and US-Taiwan sections of the system.
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The Trump administration has succeeded in killing off a project from Facebook and Google to connect Hong Kong to LA via an 8,000-mile-long broadband cable.
Google and Facebook on Thursday officially withdrew their plans for the cable, which has been in the works as part of an initiative called the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) since 2016. The PLCN was supposed to connect the US to Taiwan, the Philippines, and Hong Kong and while the cable has already been laid, it has not yet come online.
In July this year the US government started to put pressure on the FCC to block the part of the PLCN that hooked up to Hong Kong. A Department of Justice telecoms committee submitted a recommendation to the FCC in July that the cable to Hong Kong be rejected on national security grounds.
The committee’s recommendation was based on the fact Beijing has significantly reduced Hong Kong’s autonomy in a sweeping crackdown this year, which it claimed made the cable vulnerable to being tapped. It also specifically raised concerns a Hong Kong-based company called Dr. Peng Ltd, which it described as the “fourth largest provider of telecommunications services in the PRC [People’s Republic of China]” was a significant investor in the cable.
"We can confirm that the original application for the PLCN cable system has been withdrawn, and a revised application for the US-Taiwan and US-Philippines portions of the system has been submitted. We continue to work through established channels to obtain cable landing licenses for our undersea cables," a Google spokesperson told Business Insider.
This news comes a month after the Trump administration unveiled plans to essentially seal off China from the US internet. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the "Clean Network Initiative" on August, outlining five broad areas of tech policy which would try to block off large chunks of Chinese internet.
One of these areas was undersea cables, and Pompeo wrote the aim was to "ensure the undersea cables connecting our country to the global internet are not subverted for intelligence gathering by the PRC at hyper scale."
The Trump admin has ratcheted up tensions with China over the past month or so, with the president signing an executive order in August threatening to ban social media app TikTok unless it sells its US business, claiming the app spies on US citizens. TikTok is suing the administration over the order, and China passed new export legislation on Friday that could complicate any potential sale.