Brazil is trying to make a national email system, that will be immune to U.S. espionage.
The new email system should be working in the latter half of 2014, Brazil’s communication minister, Paulo Bernardo, told the Folha de São Paulo newspaper this week.
Plans for the anti-snooping email system got underway earlier this year, after Edward Snowden revealed some of the spying tactics used by the U.S. National Security Agency, including its practice of intercepting millions of emails and phone conversations around the globe.
Brazil was one of the countries targeted by U.S. spies, along with Mexico and several other Latin American countries, for security information as well as commercial secrets.
Bernardo said that his government had initially asked Brazil’s postal agency, Correios do Brasil, to design a secure email system that could be used by government officers and businesses who subscribed to an “encrypted” form of email.
But on Monday, he announced that the government now plans to make this system available to all of Brazil’s population.
“It’s necessary to encourage a safer email service,” Bernardo told Folha. The communications minister mentioned that last year the U.S. government made 311 requests to Facebook for user information.
“They aren’t working in the retail market, (for private information),” Bernardo quipped.
Brazil’s government still hasn’t decided whether it will charge a fee for access to this secure form of email, or whether it will be available to users for free, like Gmail and Hotmail.
Bernardo made his declarations to Folha, shortly after a popular Brazilian TV show suggested that the NSA had spied on President Dilma Rousseff, by intercepting her emails, and tapping into calls made from her personal cellphone.
The TV program aired on Sunday. It based its claims on NSA documents that Edward Snowden shared with British Journalist Glenn Greenwald, which also suggested that the U.S. agency had spied on Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto, and several of his aides.
Brazil is also contemplating other ideas to make its email communications safer from U.S. espionage, including forcing companies like Google and Facebook, to store their data for Brazilian users, within servers that are located in Brazil.
During a recent visit to Brazil, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged that the U.S. government had intercepted emails and phone conversations in Brazil.
But he added that the United States was gathering this info to protect its citizens and also to protect residents of friendly countries, like Brazil.
Kerry promised to brief the Brazilian government on the NSA’s surveillance tactics. But Brazil described the spying as a serious “challenge” to its relationship with the United States.