Verizon Communications CEO Lowell McAdam and other industry executives present at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last Thursday voiced strong support for Senate ratification of the Law of the Sea (LOS) Treaty, which would permit the U.S. to file suit on behalf of carriers when foreign nations block or otherwise hinder the deployment and repair of undersea cable networks. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that is not currently a party to the LOS Treaty, which was first enacted in 1982. Asserting that undersea cables “provide a backbone for the world’s voice and data networks,” committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA) remarked that “a party to the treaty can bring suit on behalf of its companies within the context of a [LOS] agreement.” Ranking committee member Richard Lugar (R-IN) agreed that the time had come for the Senate to vote on the treaty, stressing that “every major ocean industry, including shipping, fishing, telecommunications, oil and natural gas developers, drilling contractors, and ship builders, support U.S. accession.” In testimony before the committee, McAdam said the LOS Treaty “[goes] beyond existing international law to provide a comprehensive legal regime for submarine cables wherever they are deployed,” as he predicted that Senate ratification “will provide confidence to U.S. companies that their undersea submarine cable investments are protected.” Noting that more than 95% of U.S. international voice, video and Internet traffic is carried over 38 submarine cables, McAdams further advised lawmakers that “several recent events underscore the urgent need for a clear and unambiguous framework for protecting this vital communications infrastructure.” While support for ratification among committee Democrats appeared to be strong, some Republicans on the panel, including Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), voiced concerns about U.S. sovereignty and questioned whether adoption of the LOS Treaty would lead to improved dispute resolution for carriers, who would be forced to rely upon the government to pursue their grievances.