Brazil plans to go offline from US-centric internet
Sep 17, 2013 02:23 PM , By AP | 23 comments
Brazil President Dilma Rousseff
Brazil President Dilma Rousseff

Brazil plans to divorce itself from the US-centric internet over Washington’s widespread online spying, a move that many experts fear will be a potentially dangerous first step toward politically fracturing a global network built with minimal interference by governments.

President Dilma Rousseff has ordered a series of measures aimed at greater Brazilian online independence and security following revelations that the US National Security Agency intercepted her communications, hacked into the state-owned Petrobras oil company’s network and spied on Brazilians who entrusted their personal data to US tech companies such as Facebook and Google.

“The global backlash is only beginning and will get far more severe in coming months,” said Sascha Meinrath, director of the Open Technology Institute at the Washington-based New America Foundation think-tank. “This notion of national privacy sovereignty is going to be an increasingly salient issue around the globe.”

While Brazil isn’t proposing to bar its citizens from US-based Web services, it wants their data to be stored locally as the nation assumes greater control over Brazilians’ internet use to protect them from NSA snooping.

Ms. Rousseff says she intends to push for new international rules on privacy and security in hardware and software during the UN General Assembly meeting later this month.

Most of Brazil’s global internet traffic passes through the United States, so Ms. Rousseff’s government plans to lay underwater fibber optic cable directly to Europe and also link to all South American nations to create what it hopes will be a network free of US eavesdropping.

Ms. Rousseff is urging Brazil’s Congress to compel Facebook, Google and other US companies to store all data generated by Brazilians on servers physically located inside Brazil in order to shield it from the NSA.

If that happens, and other nations follow suit, Silicon Valley’s bottom line could be hit by lost business and higher operating costs.

Brazil also plans to build more internet exchange points, places where vast amounts of data are relayed, in order to route Brazilians’ traffic away from potential interception.

International spies, not just from the United States, also will adjust, experts said. Laying cable to Europe won’t make Brazil safer, they say. The NSA has reportedly tapped into undersea telecoms cables for decades.

Mr. Meinrath and others argue that what’s needed instead are strong international laws that hold nations accountable for guaranteeing online privacy.

“There’s nothing viable that Brazil can really do to protect its citizenry without changing what the US is doing,” he said.


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Showing 10 latest comments
  • I predict Dilma Rouseff will come down with cancer if she persists in this sort of thing.
    From: JLS
    Posted: Sep 20, 2013 at 5:10 IST
  • All the SAARC countries may take the clue.
    From: Rao PVM
    Posted: Sep 19, 2013 at 4:56 IST
  • It has to start somewhere!
    From: Toe
    Posted: Sep 19, 2013 at 0:18 IST
  • This is a good move to announce to the Brazilian people that something is being done. Other than that, what does Dilma Rousseff propose? A Brazilnet? Or a BrazilAndEuropeNet? As long as you are accessible online, you can be hacked. So, having a direct pipeline to Europe is not going to help. Good intentions but after millions of Real spent, it will eventually be futile.
    From: Rahul Garg
    Posted: Sep 18, 2013 at 16:48 IST
  • Its a good opportunity to take necessary step to ensure privacy of Indians. While MMS may believe that data of Indians is safe on US servers, facts are contrary. Its also a good time and rues to break monopoly of US govt. over internet.
    From: Santosh
    Posted: Sep 18, 2013 at 14:45 IST
  • Any self-respecting nation, and governments truly representative of their people, will follow Brazil's lead. The US-led Internet is not the only option
    From: G. Thomas
    Posted: Sep 18, 2013 at 14:44 IST
  • Good. Buisness lost in US will mean gain for business in India :) After all we have a huge market and 16% of world's population. Its better to let Indian companies have money instead of sending it away to US, aside from being spied on (which isn't too big a deal for India where no sensitive data is ever placed on internet.
    From: raman
    Posted: Sep 18, 2013 at 13:17 IST
  • Brazil is a great country like China for its size, resources and man power. They can have their efficient server systems, data centers if they have quality technology. Most of the world countries are anti-US for their own reasons. Despite envy by all and sundry US continues to be the world-leader, a top thinking machine to lead the world to peaceful order taking Russia and China into confidence.
    From: Vyas K Susarla
    Posted: Sep 18, 2013 at 8:51 IST
  • The sooner countries move away from US centric internet services the better it will be for the world as the USA will not be the center of gravity for internet services related economic activity
    From: Hassan
    Posted: Sep 18, 2013 at 8:31 IST
  • Every country's counter intelligence's job is to snoop on the other countries business and on it's own citizens and opposition in the name of security. In this case since US wants hegemony over one single planet in our galaxy, they snoop on everyone. We need global laws which are actually enforced and respected by every nation who wants to be part of the internet. Unlike how the US unilaterally defies all conventions and protocols because it runs the UN and has mercenaries in the name of "president" everywhere.
    From: Rohit
    Posted: Sep 18, 2013 at 6:18 IST