We're building undersea cable to thwart US spying, say Brazil and Europe

We're building undersea cable to thwart US spying, say Brazil and Europe

Summary: A joint EU-Brazil plan to lay a new submarine cable looks to have been prompted by fears of communications interception by the NSA.


Brazil and the EU have reaffirmed plans to lay a new undersea cable in an effort to avoid spying by US authorities.

The cable, which will stretch from Portugal to Brazil, was discussed on Monday by the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, at the seventh EU-Brazil Summit in Brussels.

The cable will be installed by Brazil's state-owned telecom provider Telebras and Spain's IslaLink Submarine Cables. It will be laid between the Portuguese capital of Lisbon and the Brazilian city of Fortaleza at a cost of $185m, and will be operational from next year.

The EU hopes the cable will cut interconnectivity costs, improve broadband take-up, and boost investment in R&D, Van Rompuy said, as well as "enhance the protection of communications".

"We share the common interest of protecting a free and open internet, which has spurred tremendous economic and social progress. At the same time, we will continue to enhance data protection and global privacy standards. A new fibre-optic submarine cable — connecting Latin America directly with Europe — would make an important contribution to these efforts," he said.

Rousseff told a news conference yesterday that the project is designed to "guarantee the neutrality" of the internet, according to Reuters. "We have to respect privacy, human rights and the sovereignty of nations. We don't want businesses to be spied upon," she said.

Rousseff's comments look to be a riposte to recent reports the NSA had been tapping undersea cables out of Europe, and that Rousseff herself had also been targeted by the spy agency.

The cable plan was part of a package of measures agreed between the EU and Brazil yesterday, including closer cooperation on cloud strategies. The summit also saw the creation of the EU-Brazil Dialogue on International Cyber Policy which will "address a number of specific priority areas, including the right to freedom of expression and privacy".

More from Brazil

Topics: Networking, Government, Privacy, EU

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  • The Enternet or Alternet ... is inevitable

    You will need a passport to participate ... the Internet is unsafe, corrupt, irretrievably damaged and hopelessly infested with spying governments, spying corporations and hackerz. The Internet was not designed to be secure and is fundamentally broken as related to security.
    • right... sure.

      It is a communication medium. Nothing more.

      Security is in the endpoints - if they want security, don't use US products.

      This will be as much about the costs of communication as it is about avoiding the US.
      • @greywolf7 & jessepollard

        You are both right, also I'm sure the spooks will be doing their damnedest to get inside it as well....Politicians and Bureaucrats are not to be trusted to behave anymore, shame really.
  • Interesting

    I'll be watching this!

    As I am sure the goons in the NSA will be too!
  • A nuclear submarine...

    ... is going to head over to splice the cable as soon as it's laid.

    • Not that easy...

      It is quite a difficult thing to do...

      First they have to find the cable. Even when it was last done they were lucky to find the cable at all.

      Second, when they DID find the cable, it was in relatively shallow water. Divers could actually go out.

      The Atlantic is a LOT deeper...
      • That's what they SAID

        I wouldn't trust the NSA or the U.S. government to give anyone the straight scoop.

        Go ahead and lay your cable. But don't think that it isn't going to be tapped.
    • They don't need to splice the cable.

      Using proxies and given that the equipment handling the fiber is sourced from one of maybe 10 companies, they'll be able to packet-sniff all of the traffic on that cable with ease.
      • Are they using Cisco?

        I guess nowadays you just can't trust US made computer equipment
    • Probably wouldn't have to

      Undersea cables give off electromagnetic radiation which can be read with some effort.

      In any case, I don't think the US Navy is going to be cutting any cables. The diplomatic consequences would be severe.
      John L. Ries
      • Electromagnetic radiation

        from a fiber optic cable?
        • Good point

          Missed that. The NSA will probably find a way to intercept communications, but not by directly tapping the cable (not worth risking an international incident over). It will be a lot harder.
          John L. Ries
  • Undersea cable meet USS Jimmy Carter...

  • So they intercept at either end, and not the cable itself

    I'm guessing that's how the all the governments are doing it at the moment.
  • Outstanding! What a relief.

    This makes me feel good all over and that this world has a chance to prosper above and beyond the "American Agenda". It tells me a new chapter in history is unfolding where the people beyond the US will be seen and heard and respected without the filtering and propaganda of the US. It should have started years ago however but it's never too late for getting the fat, arrogant and criminal US to shut the fu*k up. It makes me envious of the people of those countries that will benefit from this since we here in the US are becoming second class citizens to the world.
    • Right, Sure, Whatever.

      But how do you feel about those others countries we spied on that were spying on us at the same time?

      Or wasn't I supposed to mention that?
  • Take a look at this:


    Envision lots of fibers in each cable, all carrying traffic, all wrapped up tight and running synchronization codes. They don't break easily and tapping into them requires another cable. Gee, that sounds simple enough.

    All this expense gets you 100% reliable secret information. Everyone knows that telephones are the single most secure form of communication there is. Are you starting to think that this story is misinformation designed to distract from something else? Who is ZDnet really working for with all this pravda?
  • won't last long

    This new cable will work fine until a shark with a frikin' laser beam helmet shoots it!
    • Is it worth breaking up NATO and the Rio Pact over?

      I don't think so, and in the end, I think the Obama Administration will agree.
      John L. Ries
  • NSA

    That cable will have controlling architectures AND the NSA will eventually get into it and spy! It's a sure thing...just as certain as these:

    1) Death
    2) Taxes
    3) No Chinese will ever master the English language