Google, Facebook Considering Brazil's Spy-Proof Link to Europe

  • Brazilian minister says direct cable link avoids U.S. spying
  • Telebras markets $250 million connection to possible clients

Google, Facebook May Use Brazil's Spy-Proof Link to EU

Google and Facebook Inc. are among companies interested in using a $250 million submarine cable that will link Brazil directly to Europe as part of the South American country’s attempts to avoid U.S. electronic espionage, according to Brazilian Communications Minister Andre Figueiredo.

The cable is expected to be operational in late 2017 and “should be funded by
the commercialization of its traffic," Figueiredo said in an interview Tuesday in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress. State-owned Telecomunicacoes Brasileiras SA, known as Telebras, “is already marketing the cable to the European Union and companies such as Google and Facebook, which have shown interest in it."

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Brazil announced the construction of the link last year as part of its push to increase phone and Internet security in the aftermath of the 2013 revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency had monitored President Dilma Rousseff’s communications. While a main destination for Brazil’s Internet traffic is the U.S., linking to Europe makes sense because there is growing communication between South America and Europe, Figueiredo said. A direct cable between the two continents increases security as it avoids the U.S., he said.

The 5,900-kilometer (3,660-mile) cable that will link Brazil and its former colonizer Portugal will be laid down by a joint venture of Spain’s IslaLink Submarine Cables SL and Telebras. Figueiredo will meet this week with Islalink as part of routine talks with the company, he said.

Google declined to comment on the cable plans. A Facebook representative didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Prior to the 2013 espionage revelations, Telebras had announced plans to construct a data link directly with the U.S. However, the company abandoned this plan and following government orders began to seek a direct cable with Europe that would not involve the U.S.

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