September 17, 2013

Brazil moves to break from U.S.-centric Internet

By 
Bradley Brooks and 
Frank Bajak / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

People search the Internet during the Internet Governance Forum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. President Dilma Rousseff has ordered a series of measures aimed at greater Brazilian online independence and security.

2007 Associated Press File Photo

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.

And its postal service plans by next year to create an encrypted email service that could serve as an alternative to Gmail and Yahoo!, which according to Snowden-leaked documents are among U.S. tech giants that have collaborated closely with the NSA.

"Brazil intends to increase its independent Internet connections with other countries," Rousseff's office said in an emailed response to questions from The Associated Press on its plans.

It cited a "common understanding" between Brazil and the European Union on data privacy, and said "negotiations are underway in South America for the deployment of land connections between all nations." It said Brazil plans to boost investment in home-grown technology and buy only software and hardware that meet government data privacy specifications.

While the plans' technical details are pending, experts say they will be costly for Brazil and ultimately can be circumvented. Just as people in China and Iran defeat government censors with tools such as "proxy servers," so could Brazilians bypass their government's controls.

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.

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 U.S. is doing," he said.

Matthew Green, a Johns Hopkins computer security expert, said Brazil won't protect itself from intrusion by isolating itself digitally. It will also be discouraging technological innovation, he said, by encouraging the entire nation to use a state-sponsored encrypted email service.

"It's sort of like a Soviet socialism of computing," he said, adding that the U.S. "free-for-all model works better."

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)