U.S. officials said the Pacific Light Cable Network, a 12,800-kilometre underwater data connection between America and Asia backed by Google and Facebook, should not connect through Hong Kong over concerns that the Chinese government might be able to access “the sensitive personal data of millions of US persons.” (BBC)
Talking point: Google, Facebook and other parties first proposed the sprawling underseas network of fiber optic cables four years ago. Security concerns around Pacific Light mounted over the last year as U.S. policymakers weighed some of the Chinese partners involved in the project. In April 2019, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission approved Google’s request to connect to Taiwan, but not Hong Kong. The U.S. Justice Department said its data theft concerns have been “heightened” by the Chinese government’s “recent actions to remove Hong Kong’s autonomy,” referring to Beijing’s approval last month of a national security law. The announcement comes as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is planning to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, in Hawaii and the U.S. imposes new export controls on Chinese telecom giant Huawei. Unwillingly caught in the middle of this tech war is Europe: “When two elephants dance, it’s hard to stand aside and not be impacted,” said Jörg Wuttke, the president of the European Chamber of Commerce in China.