UNCLOS would specifically allow U.S. telecommunication companies to protect underseas cables from emerging threats of piracy and terrorism
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Another more recent event underscores how U.S. telecommunication companies suffer because the United States is not a party. On March 27, 2007, two active international cable systems were heavily damaged on the high seas and taken out of service for about three months as a result of piratical depredations for private ends by commercial vessels from Vietnam; they stole a total of over 106 miles of cable, including optical amplifiers from these active systems11. Repair costs are estimated in excess of $7.2M with the national economic costs of the disruptions still being ascertained. The cable systems are owned by consortiums,common in the industry12, and the ownership and landing points involve eleven countries. United States co-owners who sustained losses and had their networks disrupted were AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. With the exception of the United States, all of the nations impacted have tangible preventative and compensatory options as well as obligations to protect their nationals under the 1982 Convention. The Convention expressly proscribes depredations against property on the high seas and the EEZ's and classifies them as piracy with recourse to all of the Convention's robust remedies to put pirates out of action13. Expressly classifying depredations against property such as cables is an example of how the Convention protects cables from new emerging threats.
Currently the vital U.S. underseas cable industry has to rely on the outdated 1884 telegraph treaty for its legal basis when defending its rights to lay, maintain, and repair underseas cables.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.