Increasing global reliance on internet telecommunications underscores need for protections for underseas cables provided by UNCLOS
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In economic terms, Pike stressed that advances in technology have dramatically impacted the impor- tance of acceding to the Convention, particularly in terms of the nation’s economic security. Furthermore, he believes the treaty under consideration today is perceived far differently than it was when amended in 1994, just as the Internet was being introduced to the world.
“Now, we’ve got 95 percent of all of our Internet traffic, whether it’s orders for widgets, whether it’s science or military, all of this information travels on undersea cables, and we basically have no protection over those,” he said, illustrating why telecommunications giants like AT&T and Verizon, as well as the North American Submarine Cable Association, are among vocal advocates on Capitol Hill pushing for ratification. “These organizations strongly support the treaty because it affords us unfettered ability to lay and maintain these undersea cables, but undersea cables were sort of an afterthought in 1982.
Currently the vital U.S. underseas cable industry has to rely on the outdated 1884 telegraph treaty for its legal basis when defending its rights to lay, maintain, and repair underseas cables. U.S. ratification of UNCLOS would better protect U.S. companies’ existing cable systems and foster additional investments by giving telecommunications the legal certainty to their claims that they need.