More NSA Spying Fallout: Brazilian President Snubs Obama Invitation, May Trigger Internet Balkanization

from the this-is-getting-serious dept

A couple of weeks ago, Techdirt noted that the Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, was angry that the NSA had been reading her private emails and text messages, and that as a result she was contemplating cancelling an imminent high-profile state visit to the US. That was before the recent revelations that the NSA had also engaged in industrial espionage at the biggest Brazilian company, Petrobras, which seems to have been the final straw: Rousseff has now formally “postponed” her trip to the US, according to the Brazilian news site O Globo (original in Portuguese.)

Despite the framing that this is merely a “postponement” until the US has provided satisfactory explanations of the NSA’s behavior, it’s a real slap in the face for President Obama — in the past, no national leader would dream of snubbing the US in this way — and a measure of how seriously the NSA’s activities are affecting US standing in the world. But this is not just about symbolic actions like cancelling high-level meetings: there are also likely to be longer-term repercussions for both US companies and the whole Internet.

For example, Rousseff is making a speech next week at the opening session of the UN General Assembly in New York. According to O Globo, she will raise the issue of American spying there, and call for a ban on espionage conducted by means of the Internet. Meanwhile, an Associated Press story published by the Washington Post has some details of other actions that Rousseff intends to take in an effort to protect Brazilians from online snooping in the future:

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

Of course, the problem is that then it will be the UK’s GCHQ and other European agencies that start spying on Brazilian traffic, rather than the NSA. Here’s another idea that the President of Brazil wants to see realised:

Rousseff is urging Brazil’s Congress to compel Facebook, Google and all companies to store 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: Brazilians rank No. 3 on Facebook and No. 2 on Twitter and YouTube.

Whether or not that helps to secure the personal data of Brazilians, such a move will almost certainly increase the costs for US Internet companies operating in Brazil — more bad news for them, all thanks to the NSA. But there may be even worse in store for the Internet as a whole, as the AP article points out:

The effort by Latin America’s biggest economy to digitally isolate itself from U.S. spying not only could be costly and difficult, it could encourage repressive governments to seek greater technical control over the Internet to crush free expression at home, experts say.

This is just what many people feared: that the leaks about the NSA’s massive surveillance activities around the world — including economic espionage — will provide the pretext repressive regimes need in order to take complete technical control of the Internet in their countries, rather than continuing to acquiesce in its global governance, as at present. And so all the efforts by Western countries at the recent World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) to stop precisely that kind of balkanization will have been in vain.

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Comments on “More NSA Spying Fallout: Brazilian President Snubs Obama Invitation, May Trigger Internet Balkanization”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Im sure Obama is devistated by this

I he’s thinking about quitting his job because of it it’s just that bad !!!..

NO ONE EVER cancels meetings or visits to the US !!!!

(oh, wait it happens ALL THE TIME !!!!)

This will lead to the fall of the US !!!!!! OMFG !!!!!

Breaking news America has upset Brazil !!!!!! The end of the world as we know it..

I hear also this will lead to the shutting down of the INTERNET !!!!!!

Does this mean an end to Techdirt ???? I guess every cloud has a silver lining !!

Anonymous Coward says:

We’ll survive the “balkanization”. By the time that happens, hopefully the blowback against US will have achieved its purpose, and US will present strong transparent guarantees that it’s not going it anymore (same for their partners in spying).

Also, I really like the idea of banning spying from the Internet. Keep the Internet “free”, which is what we’ve always wanted right? No government interference and regulations on the Internet, the last bastion of freedom and democracy.

So banning spying on the Internet sounds like a very reasonable proposal to me.

out_of_the_blue says:

Re: "I really like the idea of banning spying from the Internet."

Me too! OUTLAW GOOGLE’S SPYING. It’s not necessary to its search engine functions, and if can’t survive without spying in any and every way clever weenies can conceive, then just nationalize it as otherwise a hazard to freedom and privacy.

out_of_the_blue says:

So you want "global governance"? That's the WORST idea!

“This is just what many people feared: that the leaks about the NSA’s massive surveillance activities around the world — including economic espionage — will provide the pretext repressive regimes need in order to take complete technical control of the Internet in their countries, rather than continuing to acquiesce in its global governance” — It’s a non-sequitur from how you started the piece, so looks like you wedged in a favored notion. — If you’ve ANY notion that creating yet more government, more distant, would be to the good for the masses, then you’re part of the globalist cabal. That’s true even if you hedge that intend limited to the internet. Gov’t begins evil and only worsens with unified power.

Similarly with stopping “balkanization”. The globalists want all the keys to power in one place so easy to grab. You need to muse on the allegory in “Lord of the Rings”: concentrated power should always be opposed.

What You Pay For Sports (user link) says:

How quickly could this escalate?

I’m starting to wonder how far Dilma Rousseff wants to take this. At what point does she decide to block Americans from entering Brazil because of these reports of NSA spying?

Because, y’know, the USA qualified for the FIFA World Cup last week, and that’s being hosted in Brazil next summer. And Obama, our West Ham United supporter-in-chief, isn’t going to want a repeat of the 1980 Olympics on his hands.

And neither does ESPN. Can you imagine Bob Iger and John Skipper trying to negotiate a deal between Obama and Rousseff over this? Crikey.

Anonymous Coward says:

Way to go NSA. You destroyed the global internet, America’s IT businesses, damages America’s reputation worldwide, weakened security by inserting “backdoors” into encryption standards, lost the trust of the American people who fund your unconstitutional spy expeditions, and completely destroyed the US Constitution.

You are a cancer that is killing this country from the inside out. Just like the corrupt judicial, executive, and congressional branches of this country, and those who occupy them.

Your traitorous actions, and those of your co-conspirators, will not be forgotten.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

In defense of at least some americans, the reason they ‘don’t care’ is that they simply do not know about it.

Far too many get their information regarding what’s happening, both locally and abroad from basically government PR departments masquerading as ‘Independent news agencies’, meaning they never hear a word about what’s actually happening, only what the ones charge in the government and corporations want them to hear/know.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Are you kidding? We talking about level of lies, some stations might twist the truth to get better new coverage, others has a political agenda, while some like Fox News, has been repeatably been caught in fabricating outright lies, and their whole setup is disgusting whenever they ‘interview’ others (aka they preach and try to ridicule whoever they disagree with, without have any annoying facts getting in the way)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Oh, I’m absolutely not defending Fox. I just think that the main difference between them an everyone else is that they suck more at hiding their bias/lies/preaching/etc. They’re a handy scapegoat because they are so obvious, but I don’t trust any of them at all. I don’t think a lie being more obvious makes it worse. If anything a subtle lie is more damaging because it is harder to spot.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Please do not confuse the will of the American public with the acts of power hungry, greedy, personal empire building individuals in government.

The government is broken. If you want to place blame, another good place to start is at the top of global mega corporations.

We have a constitution. It’s simply that people are being paid to ignore it. Other people’s job is to keep the public so distracted that they ignore it or believe it must be necessary. Think of the children.

Anonymous Coward says:

Impressed ?

Googles: Balkanization
About 438,000 hits

A pretty rare word (google agrees) that I have never heard before… but The Balkans makes sense now. Shame the American spelling with a “z” puts the word into even more obscurity.

I shall tap my dactylion on my cheek, ignore my boreism, my aura of jumentous and willfully forget that I am a slubberdegullion. For now I can enjoy being an autolatrist but really if you knew, you’d know I am a philosophunculist.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Impressed ?

Been an adult for quite some time now. Also surrounded by some very smart and articulate people. I do not recall hearing that word before. If I did, I would have asked about it. Then again I can’t remember ever having a conversation about fragmenting countries into separate entities, so to me that whole topic is rare.

To put it into perspective “”quantum mechanics”” gets 6.5 million hits in google.
On a similar scale with 627,000 hits is “”baryons””
“baryons” is actually mentioned more on the internet than “balkanization”

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Impressed ?

Most of the time, I’ve heard it (and used it) in networking terms — just as it’s being used here.

I’ve also frequently heard it used in news reports, mainstream and otherwise. Admittedly, less so now than in years past, but still. When used here, it’s been in its original sense.

I’ve also heard it frequently used in a social sciences context, referring to the fracturing of social groups into subgroups.

By the way, using Google hit counts to measure how common something is is a highly suspect practice, for a lot of reasons.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Impressed ?

Never heard it applied to networking terms. It does make sense if applied as an abstract to splitting the internet into regional areas.

Never studied social science and think that applying the term to fracturing social groups into subgroups would only apply IF those social groups were fractured geographically. Even then it’s a really abstract application as it ignores the nature of country/state.

You wont convince me that it is a widely used popular word. Not because I have only just heard of it, but because the word has such a narrow meaning and applies only to fracturing political units into separates based on geographical regions.
It also heavily implies… “similar to what happened to the Balkans”. You can’t really apply that*, to that many things without dropping part of the meaning.

Google hits are a reflection of a words use in real life. Of course it is not 100% accurate but it does give a very good indication. Google do scrape millions of nodes and billions of web pages after all.

silverscarcat (profile) says:

Re: Re: Bush did start this mess...

Not saying Bush is innocent.

Hell, I blame Clinton for allowing the economic collapse to start when he signed the bill that ended glass-steagle, not to mention his role in the Middle East for allowing 9/11 to happen by allowing so many innocents to die in Iraq, which just pissed off the Muslims worse than they already were.

I blame Reagan for allowing Saddam to come into power.

I blame every President from Truman to Nixon for their role in meddling with world affairs from Korea, to Vietnam (though Nixon DID do a lot of good stuff in 5 years, gotta give him credit for that), to helping Bin Laden out against the Soviets…

Brazilian Guy says:

Well, the Brazilian military wanted to buy Sukovs 35 anyway, but the executive tought that buying the F18s would be a good step to cement Brazil’s position as an ally and partner of the USA and help to calm the concerns of the remainder of Latin America.

We openly admit that we want the diplomatic influence associated with having a seat in UN’s security council. We even gave up our military nuclear program for over 20 years because we wanted to show we are commited to peace. We sent man and materiel to Haiti and Africa in UN sanctioned interventions. We Reach to other countries shunned by the West, trying to have a cultural exchange. China had our validation to enter WTO. And overall has been a better partner. Brazil and China are co developing satelite and communication tech, openly.

So, take your ball, there are plenty of games to play around.

Ninja (profile) says:

It’s not Bolivia, It’s not Russia, It’s not Iran. It’s Brazil. While the country may not be the bastion of freedoms and other stuff it has a great deal of reputation worldwide. This is a major hit. The only way out now is to rollback the surveillance efforts in a very transparent way. Obviously they will probably not be doing it;

The Real Michael says:

Re: Re:

Give it time. Once Brazil does away with dependence on US-run internet services, the MSM, on behalf of their state and corporate rulers, will propagate the message that Brazil has become sympathetic to our enemies and supports terrorism.

(Irony: the US government has been supplying Al Qaeda-led rebels in Syria with weapons with which they slaughter innocent people, while simultaneously doing everything it can to prevent law-abiding Americans from exercising their 2A rights.)

We’re on a slippery slope towards serfdom. It’s happened many times throughout the course of history, with various examples of it in the past century alone.

Anonymous Coward says:

good on her!! the problem here is she will relent soon enough and go to the next invitational meeting as if nothing happened. during the time between the two meetings, the USG will send all sorts of absolute bullshit excuses, grovelling their best, and then carry on with the surveillance, just as they still are in the rest of the world. in other words, nothing will stop, nothing will change!!

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