The US government has called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to block an application to connect Cuba with the US via a new subsea cable landing station.
According to Reuters, the Justice Department-led panel known as "Team Telecom" cited fears around national security.
Fears around national security stem from the fact that the cable landing system (CLS) in Cuba would be owned and controlled by Cuba’s state-owned telecommunications monopoly, Empresa de Telecommunicaciones de Cuba S.A.
Team Telecom alleges that Cuba "could access sensitive US data traversing the new cable segment". Reuters notes that the FCC is reviewing the recommendations made by Team Telecom.
The cable in question is the ARCOS-1 submarine cable, which connects the US with countries in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. This cable could potentially expand to a CLS in Cuba.
ARCOS-1 is operated by ARCOS-1 USA. In a 2021 filing to the FCC, ARCOS-1 USA said that the cable would increase the communications that people in Cuba have with the US and the rest of the world.
Team Telecom has previously been successful in blocking a cable connecting Hong Kong, which would have been controlled by Beijing. The cable was abandoned by Alphabet's Google and Facebook parent Meta.
Unsurprisingly Cuba has hit out at the plans of the US government. Cuba´s Vice Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio accused long-time rival the United States of hypocrisy.
President Joe Biden had previously said last year that the US was working to make Internet connectivity more accessible to Cuba following widespread protests.
Cuba currently has three subsea cables landing on the island, two of which serve US military interests. Launched in 2012, the 1,860 km Telecom Venezuela and Transbit-owned Alba-1 lands at Santiago de Cuba and Siboney in Cuba and runs to Ocho Rios, Jamaica and La Guaira, Venezuela. The other two are owned by the US government and run from its Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and prison camp in Cuba to Punta Salina in Puerto Rico and Florida.