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Could an undersea cable to Europe help Brazil maintain net neutrality?

Heather Parry

By Heather Parry

10 March 2014

Net neutrality has been one of the hot topics of 2014, in the web world at least. Ever since a federal court struck down the FCC’s Open Internet rules earlier this year, the issue of net neutrality has been at the forefront many people’s minds. The ruling threatened to change the internet as we know it–and not necessarily for the better.

With the NSA and GCHQ revelations in the US and UK respectively, it seems as if internet security has hit an all-time low, even though online banking and other organizations now use high-grade encryption to ensure that any data passed through their sites are incredibly safe. When your ISPs and government are spying, however, every online action is potentially unsafe–and can be used against you.

It’s not just everyday web users that are seemingly unhappy with the unsafe nature of 2014’s internet. The Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff spoke at a joint press conference with EU officials last week to discuss a potential link between the internet access in Brazil and the European Union.

Stating that she did not want Brazilian businesses to be spied on (presumably by the US government), Rousseff outlined a proposed undersea internet cable from Brazil to Germany, which would capitalize on the German government’s dedication to web security for its users and net neutrality on a wider scale.

“The Internet is one of the best things man has ever invented. So we agreed for the need to guarantee… the neutrality of the network, a democratic area where we can protect freedom of expression,” said Rousseff, expressing the opinions of many users from all over the globe and no doubt cementing the support of many of Brazil’s nearly 200 million residents.

This international proposal comes on the heels of the powerful German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s call for the protection of European communications from the US. Currently, all web data from the EU is routed through the US, a fact that is making international governments increasingly unhappy. Since it was revealed in Edward Snowden’s landmark whistleblowing event that the NSA were directly intercepting both Ms Merkel’s phone calls and Ms. Rousseff’s personal communications, the issue of both national and personal security has been discussed widely in both Europe and South America, despite President Obama’s claims that the practice of spying on world leaders has been discontinued.

A direct communications label from South America to Europe would certainly establish a new level of security for both regions, and would serve to loosen the stronghold that the US currently has on the web. However, whether this proposal is practical, or indeed feasible to implement during one of the worst European recessions in recent memory, is still to be seen.

One thing is for sure, however; the repercussions of Edward Snowden’s NSA leak are far from over.


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