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State-owned telecom provider Telebras recently announced that it was entering into a joint venture with Spain’s IslaLink Submarine Cables to build a link between the northeastern city of Fortaleza and the Iberian Peninsula.
The undersea cable is budgeted at $185 million and construction is scheduled to begin in July
Brazil, along with most Central and South American countries, traditionally routes its Internet traffic through the Network Access Point, which is hosted in Miami, Florida.
Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa currently use hubs in Europe and the US to connect to one another, which translates into higher costs and leaves open the opportunity for data interception and theft..
Telebras project coordinator Ronald Valladão says the cable will boost Brazil’s Internet security and cut online costs for the consumer.
“This new submarine cable provides a direct connection to the European continent, decreasing latency. It is expected that this will result in cost reductions,” he recently told the media.
Since Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency contractor who leaked vital intelligence to the media on US domestic and overseas surveillance, published information that Washington was aggressively spying on Brazilian officials, including the president, Brasilia has made Internet security and communications a priority.
Brazil and its fellow BRICS partners are also moving ahead with building a massive undersea cable that would connect all members.
By the time it is completed, the BRICS Cable will be the third longest undersea telecommunications cable in the world, covering a distance of 34,000km.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has also pushed a new Internet bill that would compel Google, Facebook and other networks to store locally gathered data in the country, and not on overseas servers.
The new legislation would force foreign-based Internet companies to maintain data centres inside Brazil that would then be governed by Brazilian privacy laws, officials said.
Rousseff has repeatedly said that the US spying regimen is unacceptable, and postponed an official visit to the US originally scheduled for October 23 in protest.
“The illegal practices of intercepting the communications and data of citizens, companies and members of the Brazilian government constitute a serious act against national sovereignty and individual rights, and incompatible with the democratic coexistence of friendly countries,” a presidential statement said when revelations of espionage in Brazil were made public.
On November 24, Brazil and Argentina urged other South American countries to discuss a bilateral treaty on cyber-security.
On November 27, the UN Rights Committee passed a “right to privacy” resolution, drafted by Brazil and Germany.
The Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural affairs, unanimously adopted the resolution, saying surveillance and data interception by governments and companies “may violate or abuse human rights.”
In late January, talks between Brazil and the US failed to satisfactorily answer the spying charges or eke out a “permanent solution” to restore bilateral ties damaged by the Snowden revelations.
The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies