Brazil oil giant involved in NSA spying claims

Leaked documents suggest that data on mutibillion-dollar oil field auction could be at risk

Another Sunday evening, another set of allegations involving the US National Security Agency.

Yesterday (8), a Brazilian TV show reported that Petrobras, the partly government-owned oil giant, has had its internal network monitored by the NSA.

The TV piece has shown NSA training material where the name Petrobras appears several times. However, the extent of the monitoring activities is not known and Petrobras is not commenting on the matter. 

If any sensitive information has been obtained by the US agency, that could well include data around the multibillion-dollar auction for Campo de Libra, the huge sub-salt oil field off the coast of São Paulo state, which will take place next month and is set to be the biggest in Brazilian history.

The possibility that any of that data may now be in the hands of the US government would contradict US government statements that the surveillance activities had nothing to do with economic espionage.

The allegations are based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden and fed to the TV show by journalist Glenn Greenwald. Last week, the same programme reported the news that  the NSA was also monitoring the communications of president Dilma Rousseff and key aides , which the president is still trying to deal with. 

Simpler encryption

Meanwhile, the Brazilian intelligence agency Abin has presented new, simpler to use encryption systems to protect sensitive government data which should go live in the next few days. 

The encryption set-up currently in place for computers, mobile devices and telephone lines is often unused by key ministers. Communications minister Paulo Bernardo - of all people - has been quoted as saying that he rarely uses encrypted mobile phones because he finds them too complex.

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