Brazilian president targeted by NSA spy program

Brazilian president targeted by NSA spy program

Summary: Allegations that communications between Dilma Rousseff and her key aides have been intercepted by the US agency increase tension between the countries

TOPICS: Security, Government

New evidence suggests that communications between Brazil president Dilma Rousseff and key members of staff have been monitored by the US National Security Agency (NSA).

The information was reported yesterday (1) by a current affairs TV show and obtained by security journalist Glenn Greenwald, based on documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The documents the journalist based his report on did not include any specific information of what content has been intercepted by the NSA, but the journalist told the Associated Press in an email that "it is clear in several ways that her communications were intercepted, including the use of DNI Presenter, which is a program used by NSA to open and read emails and online chats."

Brazilian Justice Minister Eduardo Cardozo has been quoted by newspaper O Globo that "if the facts of the report are confirmed, they would be considered very serious and would constitute a clear violation of Brazil's sovereignty."

"This is completely outside the standard of confidence expected of a strategic partnership, as the US and Brazil have," the minister adds.

Communications minister Paulo Bernardo, usually more blunt in his declarations to the press, told newspaper Folha de São Paulo that the alleged spying is "totally absurd" and that the NSA practices "have nothing to do with the US security" are are "maneuvres to obtain advantages in commercial deals."

The news on spying on president Rousseff follow the revelations of concerted NSA spying on Brazil, published by Greenwald in the Brazilian press in July. The government is due to get the Brazilian ambassador in the US, Thomas Shannon, to - again - demand explanations from the White House about the case and get the United Nations involved.

After Greenwald's Brazilian boyfriend David Miranda was detained in London a couple of weeks ago under the UK Terrorism Act - clearly an effort to intimidate Greenwald, a key commentator on US and UK mass surveillance programmes - the journalist vowed to make a new series of bombastic revelations.

Since Greenwald's reports in July, the Brazilian government has announced that any illegal commercial links between local and American companies would be looked into by the Police and a Senate investigation has been launched. However, nothing concrete has come out of these investigations.

Over the last few weeks, Rousseff's government has also rushed to announce a barrage of measures to protect the country's information, such as the purchase of its first satellite and the voting of the country's "Internet Constitution". Certain parts of the future set of regulations have upset some large technology companies that operate in Brazil, such as Google and Facebook.

Topics: Security, Government

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I would certainly hope the NSA is monitoring her

    communications. And those of all the mid and upper level officials of all countries, including their own. That's what they exist for, what their huge budget is given to them to equip them to be able to do. That's the whole point of having a spy agency. What is not obvious about any of this? All countries are doing this. The US would be placed at a huge disadvantage if they weren't doing this. They can't have all the European and Asian and middle eastern and Latin American and African countries and particularly Russia knowing all kinds of information about the Brazilian administration or any other administration that the US doesn't. That'd just be foolish of them.
    Johnny Vegas
    • True in general but not massive electronic surveilance

      It's true that countries do spy on other countries, including allies, but nothing even vaguely similar to NSA's program in scope. And if the main interest of the program is to avoid terrorist attacks and other matters of primarily NATIONAL SECURITY, when was the last time a Brazilian was involved in a terrorist attack against the U.S., the E.U., Japan, Australia, Canada, or any of our other major areas of interest?

      Actually, the NSA program will cause a huge backlash where we most DON'T want it. We have given both Russia and China completely legitimate justification to develop ENTIRELY NEW PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES AND OPERATING SYSTEMS. Imagine the U.S. trying to find a bunch of hackers FLUENT IN CHINESE so they can hack an operating system written from the ground up in Chinese instead of an alphabetic language. China has already developed and advocates use of a "national" microprocessor and is in the process of developing a fairly standardized Chinese Linux for use on desktops instead of Windows. But a major fork that winds up totally incompatible and has no documentation in any European language will be a nightmare for other governments.
    • So if a Brazilian hack were found in the White House...

      ...and the Brazilian government were listening and reading everything that Obama said, read or wrote to his aides and secretaries, Brazil would be just doing what everybody does and what it would be expected to do? If such a thing had happened and were found out, Americans would riot demanding the White House to nuke Brazil. But of course, as a wise Brazilian proverb says, "hot pepper in other people's eyes is a refreshment..."
  • But they were caught!

    People drink and drive, people smoke pot, people speed in their cars. That doesn't mean that when they get caught, they don't get punished. And if the NSA is such a great spy agency...they wouldn't get caught. Your statement implies that the NSA must be the novice in a sea of experts. Let alone that know...spy on the citizens of the US. Our government is out of control and needs to be put in its place.
    Developing Clouds