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Reports alleging the US National Security Agency (NSA) has been partnering with companies to spy on Brazilians has heated up debate over a draft bill stuck in Congress that might have helped prevent the alleged online snooping.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has proposed storing such data collected by internet companies inside the country.
The new measure would be added to an existing bill — the Brazilian Internet Bill of Civil Rights (Marco Civil da Internet) which aims to establish principles, guarantees, rights and duties for internet use in the country.
“The president wants this voted on as soon as possible to have a law that protects Brazil’s 100 million Internet users,” said Alessandro Molon who drafted the bill.
According to a Washington Post report on October 30, the NSA has tapped directly into communications links used by Google and Yahoo to move huge amounts of email and other user information among overseas data centres.
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said on Tuesday that if these reports are true, the US government would be in breach of the law.
“It’s really outrageous that the NSA was looking between the Google data centres, if that’s true. The steps that the organisation was willing to do without good judgment to pursue its mission and potentially violate people’s privacy, it’s not OK,” Schmidt said in an interview.
Brazil’s Globo television has aired several reports about the US intelligence agency NSA’s focus on Brazil, based upon documents leaked by Edward Snowden to Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who resides in Rio.
Among the revelations have been that the NSA intercepted Rousseff’s communications with her top aides, that the agency is intercepting a huge amount of internet traffic that flows through Brazil, and that its espionage programs have targeted Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras.