Sunday, July 21, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Thursday, February 1, 2018
Shield Internet from Jones Act
By Joe Kent @ 3:29 PM :: 4788 Views :: Jones Act

Image result for hawaii internet cable connections

Shield Internet from Jones Act

by Joe Kent, Grassroot Institute,  Jan 31, 2018

It might be hard to believe, but Hawaii’s internet system (and, indeed, all U.S. internet cable systems) are highly dependent on not being subject to the protectionist shipping law known as the Jones Act.

The Jones Act, officially the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is a federal law that requires ships carrying cargo between U.S. ports to be American built, American flagged, American crewed, and American owned. However, there has been some debate about whether the Jones Act applies to ships that do work on the ocean floor surrounding the United States, such as companies that lay internet cable.

Currently, there are no Jones Act-compliant ships capable of laying cable on the ocean floor, according to the International Cable Protection Committee (ICPC).

This was discovered last year when U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) tried to revoke an exemption from the Jones Act that applies to all companies operating on America’s outer continental shelf, such as oil producers and companies that install and repair international telecommunications cables.

The Trump administration halted the rule change May 10, 2017 after receiving thousands of letters, mostly in opposition.

Among those in opposition was the ICPC, which represents submarine cable owners and cable ship operators worldwide. In a 30-page legal brief with supporting exhibits, it pointed out that, “There are about 59 modern oceangoing cable ships in the world; they fly diverse flags, the majority of which are flags of NATO allies or nations with which the United States has significant mutual defense and security agreements (i.e. United Kingdom, United States, France, Marshal Islands, Spain, Italy, Norway, Japan, Korea, and Singapore).”

As for U.S. ships, however, the brief said, “At present, and since the Second World War, there are and have been no U.S.-built commercial cable ships that could qualify as coastwise vessels under the Jones Act.”

The upshot being: “There is no realistic way that U.S. Jones Act qualified vessels, even assuming any existed, could provide worldwide security for vital U.S. submarine critical international infrastructure.”

The cable trade organization also said that if CBP revoked its long-standing Jones Act exemptions, “cable ships would be constrained to stop at non-U.S. ports before conducting any operation in U.S. territorial waters to break the continuity of the voyage. This would undermine significantly the speed of both installations and repairs.”

Moreover, “If every nation were to limit repairs in national waters to only a cable ship built and registered in that country and crewed only by its nationals, it would be impossible to efficiently and economically protect the world’s critical international submarine cable infrastructure in general and that of the United States in particular.”

In terms of the big picture, ICPC noted that, “Telecommunications, internet, and power companies have relied on the Jones Act exemption to fund and plan numerous cable projects” — which for Hawaii and the rest of the United States means internet systems that are faster, less expensive and more secure than they would have been if they had been forced to operate under the Jones Act umbrella.

The ICPC concluded that, “Turning this system on its head by now requiring Jones Act coastwise cable ships — when none exist — to carry out laying and repair of international cables linking the United States to the rest of the world would be strikingly detrimental not only to the companies that have relied on them, but also the international connectivity of the United States to its deployed military forces, diplomats and the digital economy.”

Web surfers in Hawaii and throughout the United States should be thankful that the Jones Act hasn’t been allowed to slow down the internet.

Unfortunately, the Jones Act continues to hamper other Hawaii businesses that rely on shipping, for the enrichment of a few at the expense of the many.



TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


Aloha Pregnancy Care Center


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii Military History

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Together


Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

July 4 in Hawaii

Land and Power in Hawaii

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

NRA-ILA Hawaii


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

School Choice in Hawaii

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii