Brazil's President calls for web freedom from USA dragnet

Fed up with US internet spying, Brazil says that it will set up a local internet and divorce itself from the world wide web.

President Dilma Rousseff ordered a series of measures aimed at greater Brazilian online independence and security on the internet.

She is miffed that the NSA intercepted her communications, hacked into the state-owned Petrobras oil company’s network and spied on Brazilians who entrusted their personal data to Facebook and Google.

According to Time magazine, analysts are worried that such moves are the beginning of the Balkanisation of the internet.

Sascha Meinrath, director of the Open Technology Institute was quoted as saying that the global backlash is only beginning and will get worse in coming months.

Brazil wants internet data to be stored locally.  But Meinrath said if that happens, it could break popular software applications and services and endanger the internet’s open structure.

It could be costly and encourage repressive governments to seek greater technical control over the internet to crush free expression.

Generally it is the countries advocating greater “cyber-sovereignty” wanting such control, with Western democracies led by the United States and the European Union in opposition. Of course the repressive nations can now say that is simply making it easier for Western countries to spy on them.

US digital security expert Bruce Schneier warned that moves from Brazil are likely to embolden “some of the worst countries out there to seek more control over their citizens’ internet. That’s Russia, China, Iran and Syria”.

Rousseff wants to build a underwater fibre 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.

The reason for this is that there is a “common understanding” between Brazil and the European Union on data privacy, and “negotiations are underway in South America for the deployment of land connections between all nations”.

Other plans include building more internet exchange points to route Brazilians’ traffic away from potential interception.

Brazil’s postal service plans to create an encrypted email service that could serve as an alternative to Gmail and Yahoo.