Google Data Policy Faces Brazil Probe After Snowden Spy Leak

Brazilian authorities will investigate data storage policies of technology companies such as Google Inc. after a Brazilian newspaper report alleged that the U.S. government spied on e-mail traffic in Latin America’s largest economy.

“We need to see where data was stored,” President Dilma Rousseff told reporters yesterday in Brasilia. “Often data are stored outside Brazil, primarily Google data. We plan to require that data from Brazilians be stored within Brazil.”

Rousseff asked the federal police and telecommunications regulator Anatel to investigate whether local companies were involved in spying, she said. Brazil will raise the issue of espionage, which Rousseff said would be a violation of Brazil’s sovereignty, to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The U.S. National Security Agency over the past decade intercepted data from telephone calls and e-mails by residents and companies in Brazil, O Globo newspaper reported July 6, citing documents collected by former national security contractor Edward Snowden.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki earlier yesterday said she wouldn’t comment on specific intelligence activities. Google’s corporate communications office said that while it had no comment on Rousseff’s statement, Google does “not provide any government, including the U.S. government, with access to our systems. We provide user data to governments only in accordance with the law.”

Oil Spying

U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Thomas Shannon met with Brazil’s Chief Minister of Institutional Security Jose Elito Carvalho yesterday to discuss the allegations, according to Rousseff’s press office.

The NSA spied on security-related concerns across the region, as well as commercial issues including oil in Venezuela and energy in Mexico, Globo reported today, based on documents from Snowden. It also sought information on Marxist guerrilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

“We have spoken with Brazilian officials regarding these allegations,” Psaki said, according to a transcript of a press briefing. “We plan to continue our dialog with the Brazilians through normal diplomatic channels. But those are conversations that, of course, we would keep private.”

When visiting Brazil in May, U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden announced the U.S. government would host Rousseff on a state visit in October. He called for increased trade and improved relations between the two nations, which he called friends.

“For many in Brazil, the United States doesn’t start with a clean slate,” Biden said on May 29 in Rio de Janeiro. “There’s some good reason for that skepticism. That skepticism still exists and it’s understandable. But the world has changed.”