To Stop Foreign Surveillance, Brazil Plans Secure E-Mail Service

The move is in response to allegations that the US government spied on online and phone communications in the country. One expert says it should work for domestic traffic, but international transactions will require more attention.

What's the Latest Development?


This weekend, Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff announced via Twitter that the country's government plans to develop a secure e-mail service that would protect online communications from foreign spies. The announcement comes shortly after revelations that the US' National Security Agency (NSA) hacked the state-run oil company Petrobras and intercepted billions of e-mails and calls including, allegedly, Rousseff's own. In addition to postponing a state visit to the US -- telling the United Nations, "Without respect for [a nation's] sovereignty, there is no basis for proper relations among nations" -- she has declared, also via Twitter, plans to host an Internet security summit next year.

What's the Big Idea?

Cambridge University security research expert Ross Anderson says setting up this kind of e-mail service should be relatively simple, and cites the German e-mail provider Gmx.de as an example. However, he warns that ensuring complete protection from espionage would be tricky, especially when it comes to international communications: "[M]ore and more business these days is done internationally...With Gmail having something like a third of all email traffic worldwide, that means the Americans will still be able to read an awful lot of messages."

Giancarlo Liguori / Shutterstock.com

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