Brazil looks to separate from NSA spy grid

Brazil is considering ways to make local use of the internet less dependent on US-based services, following leaks about Washington’s cyberspy operations. The South American nation has suggested forcing internet firms to open data centres in Brazil, which would be used to store locally generated material. It is also pursuing a plan to build a new internet cable.

The project would offer a way for data to bypass the US.

Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, has postponed a state visit to Washington after allegations that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had targeted her emails and phone calls.

It has also been alleged that the NSA hacked state-run oil company Petrobras and intercepted billions of emails and calls to Brazilians.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has previously defended the NSA’s actions, saying they were necessary to combat terrorism.

“Brazil and other countries will understand exactly what we are doing, why and how – and we will work together to make sure that whatever is done is done in a way that respects our friends and our partners,” he said last month on a visit to the country.

Last week a Brazilian official specifically named Facebook, Google and Microsoft as examples of companies that would have to change their practices.

The three companies are among those that have acknowledged handing over data about “national security matters” after legally binding requests from the US authorities.

However, there is no suggestion that Brazilians would be barred from using US-based storage services.

Brazil is also backing a separate plan to create the Brics Cable.

This would see a fibre-optic link run from the Brazilian city of Fortaleza to Vladivostok, Russia. The link would pass through Africa and Asia and connect with cables running to mainland Europe and the Middle East.

At present the vast majority of Central and South America’s internet data is routed through a single building in Miami known as the Network Access Point.

According to documents leaked by whistle-blower Edward Snowden, the NSA and its UK counterpart GCHQ have used cable taps to collect “vast amounts” of data passing though their countries, which are then analysed using encryption-cracking tools.

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