Chinese hackers target an 8,000-mile undersea cable that could steal our personal and physical data
Back In 2016 the tech giants Google and Facebook announced a new high-speed undersea cable connecting Hong Kong and Los Angeles. The cable is now laid, but a DOJ (Department of Justice) committee has advised the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to deny approval for the Hong Kong section of the cable. however, the committee is worried the cable could be tapped by the Chinese government.
According to Google, the 8000-mile undersea cable is part of the Pacific Light Cable Network and spans the Pacific Ocean, linking Los Angeles with Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Philippines. It is designed to manage 120 terabytes of data per second or 80 million HD videoconference calls between LA and Hong Kong. Team Telecom recommended to the FCC based on national security concerns, that the FCC partially deny the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) subsea cable system application, to the extent it seeks a direct connection between the United States and Hong Kong.
The committee said they believe that a cable that connects the US to Hong Kong could be vulnerable to being tapped by the Chinese government and is particularly concerned by the fact a large investor in the cable was a Hong Kong-based company called Dr. Peng Ltd which it says is the fourth largest provider of telecommunications services in the PRC [People’s Republic of China].
The committee further stated that the cable could help China make Hong Kong a pan-Asian Pacific telecommunications hub, meaning US data would be more likely to pass through Chinese infrastructure even if China wasn’t its final destination.
Subsea fiber optic cable systems form the backbone of global communications and carry most of the world’s internet, voice, and data traffic between continents. In recent years, subsea cable systems have become increasingly critical, connecting global data centers and expanding interconnections.
Because of the high speed of the very long cable system, data trying to shortcut around the world could pass through Chinese territory in a way it may not have before. In simple terms, the U.S. government claims it worries that data will be “wiretapped.”
There are thousands of cables that run underwater to make one overall network. Most nations have legal boundaries that extend a few miles offshore, and these zones are usually part of the continental shelf—the shallow area of ocean that’s still part of the North American landmass, for example, before it falls off into the deep sea.
The Committee also noted that PLCN’s proposed Hong Kong connection was only one of several pending applications seeking direct connections between the United States and Hong Kong, which would raise similar concerns.
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