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Brazil-Europe Undersea Cable Being Laid To Deter US Spying

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By Michael Mullins   |   Tuesday, 25 Feb 2014 08:57 AM

Brazil and Europe are laying an undersea cable between each other in the wake of reports that the U.S. National Security Agency was spying on Brazil.

The undersea cable agreement was announced on Monday at a summit in Brussels where Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff described the $185 million project as being central to "guarantee the neutrality" of the Internet, signaling her desire to shield Brazil's Internet traffic from U.S. surveillance, Reuters reported.

"We have to respect privacy, human rights and the sovereignty of nations. We don't want businesses to be spied upon," Rousseff told reporters at a joint news conference with the presidents of the European Commission and the European Council.

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"The Internet is one of the best things man has ever invented. So we agreed for the need to guarantee ... the neutrality of the network, a democratic area where we can protect freedom of expression," Rousseff added.

In 2013, an Edward Snowden leak led to reports that the NSA had spied on her email communications as well as those of the state-run energy giant Petrobras. Rousseff subsequently called off a state visit to Washington in protest.

In September, President Barack Obama's national security adviser Susan Rice met with Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo in an attempt to smooth over the diplomatic dispute with Brazil, pledging to address concerns raised by the spying. Obama has since banned spying on the leaders of close allies.

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Brazil currently relies on U.S. undersea cables to carry almost all of its communications to Europe. Though a cable exists between Europe and Brazil, the wiring is said to be outdated and used only for voice transmission, according to Reuters.

The joint venture will reportedly be carried out by the Brazilian telecoms provider Telebras and Spain's IslaLink Submarine Cables, with Telebras having a 35 percent stake in the deal while the Spanish company would have a 45 percent interest. The remainder of the expenses need to construct the undersea cable would apparently come from pension funds in Europe and Brazil, with the latter putting up the most money considering they have the most to gain from the partnership.

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