Brazilian Wisdom

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 centers 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.

Brazil's IT policy secretary Virgilio Almeida has suggested that internet firms would have to operate data centers in the country, which would make them subject to local privacy laws.

Her decision to cancel (or officially, to postpone) the Washington visit will be seized upon by some as an act of petty nationalism.

Some Brazilian business leaders, worried by the precarious economic climate, will question the wisdom of antagonizing such an important business.

But the political pressure was greater still. There was fury in Brazil, not only at the revelation that the president's own conversations and communications may have been spied upon by the NSA but that US interests were allegedly involved in blatant economic espionage against major Brazilian interests, including Petrobras.

Dilma Rousseff will have been aware of the feelings of ordinary Brazilians had her Washington trip gone ahead.

The perception here in Brazil is that the Obama administration has yet to give an adequate response or an apology.

In addition, he said, the government might move to ensure that its own data about tax information and other sensitive subjects would be stored locally rather than in the cloud.

Last week a Brazilian official specifically named Facebook, Google and Microsoft as examples of companies that would have to change their practices, according to a report by the Reuters news agency.

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

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