The National Security Agency’s surveillance programs have poisoned the relationship between the United States and Brazil.
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is so angry about NSA spying that she wants her country to create its own Internet that’s independent of the United States. Her goal is to prevent the NSA from spying on Brazil and store data on local computers. She’s also cancelled an upcoming trip to the US.
If the Internet plan is successful, it could cost U.S. companies business, cut American jobs, and threaten the nation’s economic future, some experts contend. Others believe that Rousseff’s actions are just the beginning of an international backlash that could cost U.S. technology companies billions of dollars.
How the NSA Spied on a Friendly Nation
Rousseff’s actions were motivated by documents that Edward Snowden turned over to Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, some of which have been republished in Brazilian newspapers.
Some of these allegations include:
- The NSA deliberately hacked into the intranet (internal internet) at the Brazilian national oil company Petrobras.
- The NSA monitored communications between Rousseff and her aides, including emails and phone calls.
- The NSA engaged in what Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald called “mass and indiscriminate spying on Brazilians.” Greenwald alleged that the “US spied on millions of emails and calls of Brazilians.”
It’s easy to see why Brazilians are so upset, say NSA critics, who note that Brazil is a democratic country and a historic friend and ally of the United States.
Rousseff has cancelled an upcoming visit to Washington and a state dinner with Obama over the spying. Obama reportedly even had a 20-minute conversation with Rousseff to try and change her mind, but was unsuccessful.
The NSA’s efforts to gather information in the name of national security are fostering anti-American hatred in other nations.
How Brazilian Reaction to NSA Could Cost American Companies Business
Dilma Rousseff’s government has laid out a series of proposals that could cost American technology companies money and some Americans their jobs in response to the surveillance, the Associated Press reported. These proposals include:
- The laying of fiber optic cables to provide a direct connection between Brazil and the European Union. This will keep Brazilian Internet traffic from going through the United States and cost American telecoms business.
- Forcing companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon to build data centers in Brazil. That would cost American jobs by forcing those companies to move operations to Brazil. Worldwide, Brazilians rank No. 3 on Facebook usage and No. 2 on Twitter and YouTube usage, AP said. Another big problem here is that many people might insist that their data be kept in Brazil because they think it would be safer there. That would increase business for Brazil but not for America.
- Building Internet exchange points that could compete with U.S. Internet companies.
- Create an encrypted email service operated by the Brazilian postal service. If it were truly secure and encrypted, such a service would be a powerful competitor to Google’s Gmail and Yahoo!, which could cost those companies a lot of business.
Rousseff also is expected to make proposals on Internet privacy to the United Nations.
In other words, the NSA’s desire to gather information could cost average Americans good-paying jobs as software designers or engineers. It could also severely damage the economy because each high-paying technology job supports several other jobs in the community.
“Brazil intends to increase its independent Internet connections with other countries,” Rousseff’s office told AP.
Her office said there is a “common understanding” between Brazil and the European Union on Internet privacy, and said “negotiations are underway in South America for the deployment of land connections between all nations.”
NSA Spying Could Cost USA Cloud Computing Industry $22 to $35 Billion
“The global backlash is only beginning and will get far more severe in coming months,” Sascha Meinrath told the Associated Press. Meinrath is director of the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation a Washington Think Tank. Meinrath thinks that other nations will follow Brazil’s lead.
“The U.S. cloud computing industry stands to lose $22 to $35 billion over the next three years as a result of the recent revelations about the NSA’s electronic surveillance programs,” Daniel Castro wrote in a recent report for the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. Cloud computing refers to the use of data storage and other applications that are shared over many computers, hence the term cloud.
In his report, Castro noted that 56 percent of non-Americans surveyed by the Cloud Security Alliance admitted they would be less likely to use a U.S.-made cloud computing solution because of NSA surveillance. The same survey discovered that 10 percent of non-Americans said they had cancelled a project with a U.S. cloud-computing company because of the surveillance revelations.
In other words, the NSA surveillance could cost just one segment of America’s technology industry $35 billion by 2016. That’s money that a country just coming out of a serious economic downturn cannot afford to lose.