Brazil's Internet breaks free from US
After Edward Snowden revealed that the United States National Security Agency (NSA) had been hacking into state security systems globally, including the Brazilian administration and the large state-owned oil company, Petrobas, the Brazilian President Rousseff decided to take drastic measures.
Rousseff wants to disconnect Brazil from any form of US centric Internet. This will consist of blocking all Brazilian Internet traffic going through to the US and reconnecting fibre optic cables directly to Europe and other South American countries. Rouseff claims that she wants to “boost investment in home-grown technology,” and buy hardware that is “approved by state privacy regulations.”
If Brazilians pulled out of American based web services, they would strike a huge blow against American business. Brazilians (population 198.7 million people) are the third most common nationality found on Facebook (65 million) and the second most common on Twitter. These companies could lose $3.5 billion if Brazilians can’t access their sites.
It also causes political tension. President Rousseff was supposed to attend a state dinner this month at the White House this month and turned down the dinner due to the recent hacking.
This policy shift will cause major problems for Internet security and the debate revolving around global networking. What could be the outcome of Brazil disconnecting from US centric Internet bases? Will it be positive? Negative?
By localizing, and thus isolating Brazil’s Internet, it could lead to the oppression of freedom of speech that global networking allows. This can be seen in countries such as Russia, China, and Syria, where governments repress their citizens by censoring their Internet sources. The gift of the Internet is that it allows for global interaction, free from limitations and restrictions.
Brazil’s measures are extreme and these recent actions raise questions about their domestic diplomacy. Germany and Mexico were also extensively hacked by NSA and have not responded in the same fashion as Brazil.
The NSA’s reach extends overseas, however; Brazil would not be guaranteed safety by connecting to Europe instead of America. It is important for the US to limit their control into global networking, for it will cause them political strife—which is unwanted on their part.
The only way to limit NSA’s power is for the US to regulate it itself.
There is no end to what NSA can accomplish and it is causing global distrust through its power. The United Nations (UN) has not yet released a statement on these global hackings, but it is looking into the matter. In 2012, it was reported the NSA had hacked into the internal UN video conferencing system.
President Rousseff must attend to the needs of her people. It is important to emphasize the benefits of having a global network, which the US fully supports. The US, however, must operate in a respectable manner. Global networking is a positive thing, but if the US continues in this direction, Brazil won’t be the only country forced to implement severe measures.