Brazil May Require Google, Facebook to Store Data Locally

Brazil may require Internet service companies such as Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. to set up local data storage centers, a senior government official said today.

Internet service companies would have to follow Brazilian privacy laws and the government may also decide to store sensitive data such as tax information within the country, Internet Policy Secretary Virgilio Almeida told reporters in Brasilia after a meeting between industry representatives and President Dilma Rousseff.

“Brazil has one of the largest IT markets in the world,” Almeida said. “It’s natural that companies have part of their infrastructure in the country.”

The measures designed to protect information privacy come in response to allegations that the U.S. National Security Agency used software to access communications between Rousseff and staff members. Rousseff will decide tomorrow whether she will cancel a state visit to Washington next month in response to the spy allegations. If the political conditions weren’t met, she would not go, Rousseff said Sept.6.

Brazil is also studying measures to attract investment in Internet equipment, Almeida said. Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo said Sept. 12 the government is considering developing locally made network equipment that phone companies would be required to use as a defense against foreign spies.

Brazil, where Congress is preparing to discuss new Internet legislation, follows Germany in calling for a homegrown industry to avoid U.S. surveillance.

The spying allegations were made earlier this month on Brazil’s most-watched TV news magazine, “Fantastico,” by U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald.

Telecommunications regulator Anatel said this month it’s investigating contracts between Brazilian operators and foreign companies. The focus is on the “main companies with the largest client bases,” the agency said.