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Brazil Analyzes Phone Contracts After Spying Allegations

Brazil Analyzes Phone Contracts After Spying Allegations
Brazil’s largest phone companies include Rio de Janeiro-based Oi SA and the local units of Madrid-based Telefonica SA, Mexico City-based America Movil SAB and Milan- based Telecom Italia SpA. Photographer: Paulo Fridman/Bloomberg

Brazilian telecommunications regulator Anatel is analyzing contracts between national operators and foreign companies to investigate possible breaches of privacy after new allegations of U.S. spying.

Anatel is investigating “main companies with the largest client bases,” a press officer said in an e-mailed response to questions yesterday. Brazil’s largest phone companies include Rio de Janeiro-based Oi SA and the local units of Madrid-based Telefonica SA, Mexico City-based America Movil SAB and Milan-based Telecom Italia SpA.

Brazil demanded an explanation from the U.S. government about documents that suggest the National Security Agency used software to probe the communications of President Dilma Rousseff with unidentified aides. The allegations were made on Brazil’s most-watched TV news magazine, Fantastico, four days ago by American journalist Glenn Greenwald, who obtained secret files from Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, in May.

Communication privacy in Brazil is protected under a 1997 law, and current regulation protects the privacy of mobile phones, landlines and Internet communication, according to Anatel. Exceptions require a judge’s permission.

In meetings with ministers this week, Rousseff discussed legislation to suspend operations for companies that participate in spying, newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo reported Sept. 2, citing Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo. The Senate is creating a committee to investigate the matter, according to the upper-house website.

Following Laws

Oi “acts strictly in accordance with Brazilian laws, which prohibit any type of breach of privacy without judicial approval,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. Oi CEO Zeinal Bava had a routine meeting with Bernardo yesterday for unrelated reasons, the company said.

Press representatives of America Movil, Telefonica and Telecom Italia had no immediate comment.

The Brazilian government created an interministerial group in July to probe earlier U.S. spying allegations, according to a statement e-mailed by the presidency press office.

Shares of Oi rose 1.6 percent to 3.87 reais at the close in Sao Paulo. Telefonica Brasil SA gained 1.1 percent to 48.27 reais, while Tim Participacoes SA, Telecom Italia’s local unit, jumped 4.5 percent to 10.01 reais. America Movil climbed less than 1 percent to 12.97 pesos in Mexico City.

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