In the wake of news that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been keeping tabs on the leaders of multiple countries, including Brazil and Germany, the agency and the U.S. have seen increasing demands for transparency and accountability. Now the security concerns surrounding these high profile revelations could be the basis for new rules for U.S. based Internet services and websites.
Under direction from President Dilma Rousseff, who herself was the target of NSA intelligence gathering, Brazilian legislatures will create a proposal that would require content providers like Google to store Brazilian users’ information in data centers within the country. This would protect that information from NSA warrants that can currently be used to demand information stored in U.S. data centers.
The data location requirements would be added to a bill already under consideration in Brazil. The Marco Civil Bill would also require Internet services to remain neutral to the information that users would be able to access.
Google says that this requirement would be difficult to commit to, requiring new infrastructure development and fines, cutting into its profits in the sixth-largest Internet market in the world.
“Brazilian users would ultimately be harmed because they couldn’t access new tools, new services,” said Marcel Leonardi, public policy director for Google in Brazil, in a telephone interview with Bloomberg. “Companies would choose to implement those services at a much later stage, if at all.”
There is also concern that isolating information to one group of data centers would make the information less secure. Google currently replicates and relocates information to protect users from single points of security failure. If the information was stored only on data centers in Brazil, someone interested in extracting information from Brazilian citizens would know exactly where to look.
Google is not the only service provider to come under fire in Brazil for conceding information to the NSA. The Brazilian government has also declined to use Microsoft’s Outlook e-mail services for the same reason, with plans to move to another e-mail platform in November.
Check out some of the other headlines in this ongoing privacy debate: