Many people applauded the strong words Brazilian president Dilma Roussef directed at the US, but we should not forget that actions speak louder. And when politics is involved, we can give up any hope of coherence.
Brazilian judges have given US Internet search giant Google until Saturday to turn over private data collected through its Street View program, press reports said Thursday.
Brazil is pushing ahead with legislation that would force global Internet companies such as Google and Facebook to keep data on Brazilian users inside the country, despite opposition from the companies and in Congress. A draft bill made public on Tuesday would grant President Dilma Rousseff decree powers to order companies to set up data centers in Brazil to store personal information on their users as a way of curbing U.S. spying.
President Dilma Rousseff met earlier this week with the Bill's sponsor, Deputy Alessandro Molon of the governing Workers Party, and asked that he insert language into the Bill that would force Internet companies to keep their servers on Brazilian soil if they want to do business in the country, the lawmaker's office said. That would force companies to follow Brazilian privacy laws for the information on those servers.
A Molon spokesman, who would not allow his name to be used because he wasn't yet authorised to speak on the matter, said the legislator and his team were ironing out the exact language to be included in the Bill. The president’s office confirmed that Ms Rousseff met with Molon and Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo Silva on Tuesday, but referred all questions about the meeting to the legislator and the minister. After hours calls to the ministry rang unanswered.
The Brazilian government asked Correios (the Brazilian mail agency) to develop a national email system. Scheduled to be launched in the second half of 2014, it will be aimed at commercial security against "snooping." The plan is to create a Brazilian alternative to the popular Hotmail, of Microsoft, and Google's Gmail. The agency had been working on an electronic mailing system for commercial purposes which would include a delivery certification when read by the addressee. (...)
"When I send you an email and I want nobody to snoop. Last year, the U.S. made 311 requests (to companies). They aren't working in the retail market," Brazil's Communication Minister Paulo Bernardo told Folha. "It's necessary to encourage a safer email service." After the cases of espionage by the American government became public, Brazil's Communication Ministry requested the project be expanded into a national service. The government believes that the current services have proved to be vulnerable since Edward Snowden disclosed secret National Security Agency (NSA) documents, showing that American companies are obliged to supply their users' data.
Brazil's intelligence agency monitored French spies it suspected of involvement in the 2003 explosion at a satellite launch base, the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper said Tuesday, though it was finally determined they played no role. (...) When the explosion occurred, killing 21 engineers and technicians, suspicion fell on the French. Citing unnamed sources, the newspaper said the agency known as ABIN carried out at least three operations against what it called a "network of spies" from France's foreign intelligence agency and its activities in the French-Brazilian Technical and Scientific Cooperation Center and in Brazil's National Space Research Institute. But it said no evidence of sabotage was found and the explosion finally was blamed on poor maintenance and mechanical failures.
The Brazilian government confirmed Monday that its intelligence service targeted U.S., Russian, Iranian and Iraqi diplomats and property during spy activities carried out about a decade ago in the capital Brasilia. (...) Brazil's Institutional Security Cabinet, which oversees the Abin intelligence service, said in an emailed statement that all the operations cited in the Folha report "follow Brazilian law for the protection of national interests." (...)
In Monday's statement, Brazil's Institutional Security Cabinet said it planned to prosecute anyone who may have leaked the documents to the Folha newspaper. (...) The Folha report detailed at least 10 intelligence operations carried out in Brasilia in 2003-04, just as former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was settling into office.
Other targets included diplomats from the Russian, Iranian and Iraqi embassies, who were followed and photographed as they came and went from embassies and official residences. In particular, Abin was interested in Russian officials involved in negotiating arms deals in Brazil, and followed Iran's ambassador to Cuba as he visited Brazil.
Still, the report focuses new attention on Abin, an agency that has drawn scrutiny for being caught by surprise by the huge street protests that shook Brazilian cities in June and for quietly ousting an agent suspected of passing secrets to the Central Intelligence Agency. Active intelligence officials have also publicly criticized the agency for prioritizing surveillance of Brazilian social movements. (...) Brazilian intelligence officials insisted in their statement that Abin’s operations were intended to defend “national sovereignty.” Referring to the revelations in the newspaper report, they also said that the leaking of classified material was illegal and that those responsible for doing so would be held accountable under Brazilian law.
Abin espionou jornalistas durante governo Lula (in portuguese only. Iit describes how the Brazilian inteligence agency has been purportedly used to spy journalists and media companies since 2004. This other commentary raises the possibility of the spying in Brasil being much more widespread, waiting for another Snowden to uncover it):
Um documento da Agência Brasileira de Inteligência (Abin), que descreve detalhes de uma queda de braço travada entre um agente e seus superiores durante o governo Lula, tem valor histórico inestimável. Esse documento, hoje arquivado, é a evidência oficial mais forte até aqui de algo que agentes confidenciavam a jornalistas, mas não podiam provar: o governo Lula espionou a imprensa. O texto revela que houve uma “Operação Mídia”, ação clandestina de espionagem de jornalistas e donos de empresas jornalísticas. VEJA teve acesso ao documento de seis páginas no qual o tenente-coronel André Soares revela a existência da operação ilegal.
So, to "counter" international spying what Ms. Roussef and her government propose is to force internet companies to store data in Brazil (it wouldn't prevent said data from being also under NSA's reach, in the US) and to create a governent e-mail system (we know our data would be safe with them, right?). To me it looks like they are just seizing the moment to implement their own surveilance under the guise of "protection against international interests", their favorite enemy. The Brazilian government has indeed a very poor relation with individual freedoms, being one of the worst offenders against google for instance (see below, or twitter info) and having a strong tendency to prohibit whatever might be considered offensive -- which encourages people to be offended very easily.
Some more links below.
Now, Veloso is taking a shellacking from the press and his fan base alike, who say he's endorsing censorship by leading the defense of a wide-ranging law that allows Brazilians to block or pull from the shelves any biographical work about them that was created without their consent.
With Brazil's publishers mobilizing to repeal the restrictions, Veloso, romantic crooner Robert Carlos and other singers who became famous under the dictatorship have banded together to defend the 2003 law, which empowers Brazilians to quash works they consider attacks on their "good name or respectability."
That means objections by a biography's subject are enough to get the books removed or even keep them from reaching stores, with many publishers not printing a book if it's not explicitly endorsed by a subject. The law also applies to films and other media, though the debate and legal actions have focused on books. Critics say it is possibly the most extreme law regulating privacy and intellectual property among democratic nations.
Not coincidentally some of the world's least free countries are President Rousseff's most important foreign-policy partners. In a September Miami Herald column titled "Why We Spy on Brazil," Cuban-born writer Carlos Alberto Montaner transcribed a conversation with an unnamed U.S. ambassador. The diplomat explained: "The friends of [Lula], of Dilma Rousseff and the Workers Party are the enemies of the United States: Chavist Venezuela, first with (Hugo) Chávez and now with (Nicolás) Maduro; Raúl Castro's Cuba; Iran; Evo Morales' Bolivia; Libya at the time of Gadhafi; Bashar Assad's Syria." He also noted that "in almost all conflicts, the Brazilian government agrees with the political lines of Russia and China." The Brazilian relationship with Cuba is especially troubling. Instead of showing solidarity with Cuba's victims of oppression, the diplomat noted, "former president Lula da Silva often takes investors to the island to fortify the Castros' dictatorship. The money invested by the Brazilians in the development of the superport of Mariel, near Havana, is estimated to be $1 billion."
The recent increase in acts of censorship of and violence against journalists in Brazil underscores a disturbing trend of government apathy. While Brazilian journalists are being threatened, beaten, and even killed, Brazil’s leaders offer their condolences but do little to rectify the problem, sometimes even contributing to it. In more than 70 percent of the murders of journalists in Brazil in the past 20 years, the killer walked away without a jail sentence. This troubling level of impunity could lead to self-censorship by frightened reporters, and demonstrates just how little has been done to protect journalists. Brazil’s press is still relatively free, especially compared to some of its neighbors, but Brazilian supporters of press freedom should definitely begin sounding the alarm.
In the run-up to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, Brazilian tourist boards and Rio’s city hall have been keen to maintain a squeaky-clean image not only in the real world but the digital one as well. So much so, that they asked Google to remove the word “favela” from its city maps. The term itself means slum or shantytown in Portuguese. Hundreds were previously identified as such on maps, but are now labeled as “morros” or hills. Officials believe the change will reduce the prominence given to the favela communities, which they said were given greater importance on maps than conventional neighborhoods like Humaita and Cosme Velho.
In late 2012 and early 2013, a spate of legal cases concerning intermediary liability drew worldwide attention to Brazil’s internet policies. In September 2012, a Brazilian electoral court issued arrest warrants for two senior Google Brazil executives, Edmundo Luiz Pinto Balthazar and Fabio Jose Silva Coelho, for failure to remove content prohibited under electoral law. The executives were accused of violating a vague provision that bans campaign material which “offend[s] the dignity or decorum” of a candidate.
(Crossposted from my other blog, in portuguese -- by mistake, actually ;)