L/fog
47°
L/fog
Hi 62° | Lo 31°

Brazil To Separate From U.S. Internet

Rio De Janeiro — Brazil plans to divorce itself from the U.S.-centric Internet over Washington’s widespread online spying, a move that many experts fear will be a potentially dangerous first step toward fracturing a global network built with minimal interference by governments.

President Dilma Rousseff ordered a series of measures aimed at greater Brazilian online independence and security following revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency intercepted her communications, hacked into the state-owned Petrobras oil company’s network and spied on Brazilians who entrusted their personal data to U.S. tech companies, such as Facebook and Google. The leader is so angered by the espionage that on Tuesday she postponed next month’s scheduled trip to Washington.

Internet security and policy experts say the Brazilian government’s reaction to information leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden is understandable, but warn it could set the Internet on a course of Balkanization.

“This notion of national privacy sovereignty is going to be an increasingly salient issue around the globe,” said Sascha Meinrath, director of the Open Technology Institute at the Washington-based New America Foundation think tank.

While Brazil isn’t proposing to bar its citizens from U.S.-based Web services, it wants their data to be stored locally as the nation assumes greater control over Brazilians’ Internet use to protect them from NSA snooping.

The danger of mandating that kind of geographic isolation, Meinrath said, is that it could render inoperable popular software applications and services and endanger the Internet’s open, interconnected structure.