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Rather than walling off from NSA, Brazil should welcome whistleblowers

Antone Gonsalves | Sept. 23, 2013
'Safe harbor protections for whistleblowers' could make it harder for the U.S. and governments in general to spy online, research fellow says

Brazil's President, Dilma Rousseff, was so angered by the NSA revelations, stemming from documents Snowden took from the agency and gave to the media, that she postponed a trip next month to Washington, D.C., to attend a state dinner in her honor.

To thwart NSA spying on Brazillians, Rousseff plans to lay underwater fiber optic cable to carry Internet traffic directly to Europe and other South American countries, Time magazineÃ'Â has reported. Most of Brazil's traffic today runs through the U.S.

The country is also pushing harder than any other nation to end U.S. commercial dominance on the Internet, Time said. For example, U.S.-based companies handle eight in 10 online searches.

Experts agree that the cost of Brazil's plans would be prohibitive for many countries and would not prevent the NSA or any other spy agency from collecting data. In addition, if many countries followed Brazil's lead, then it would divide the Web into hostile segments that would severely hamper international trade.

For now, the U.S. should hold tight for a year and see what Brazil actually does and then negotiate over real scenarios, said Stewart Baker, a partner with the Washington law firm Steptoe & Johnson and a former NSA counsel

"Sometimes the first reaction isn't the lasting response," he said.

 

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