Brazil President Dilma Rousseff started the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly with fireworks Tuesday, using her first speaking position among national government leaders to condemn US government spying on the people of her nation and of many other nations. Rousseff explained in the English written version of her speech:
We face, Mr. President, a situation of grave violation of human rights and of civil liberties; of invasion and capture of confidential information concerning corporate activities, and especially of disrespect to national sovereignty.Read the full speech here:
We expressed to the Government of the United States our disapproval, and demanded explanations, apologies and guarantees that such procedures will never be repeated.
Friendly governments and societies that seek to consolidate a truly strategic partnership, as in our case, cannot allow recurring illegal actions to take place as if they were normal. They are unacceptable.
While Rousseff's overall objection to US spying is of great interest, particular note should be made of Rousseff's discussion of how US spying on Brazilians is largely focused on Brazilian companies. While the US government defends the spying as a counter-terrorism measure, the spying could give an unfair competitive advantage to businesses tied to the US government. Rousseff explains in her speech:
In Brazil, the situation was even more serious, as it emerged that we were targeted by this intrusion. Personal data of citizens was intercepted indiscriminately. Corporate information - often of high economic and even strategic value - was at the center of espionage activity.Such revelations indicate that free enterprise may be as much a victim of US mass spying as are liberty and privacy.
While Rousseff did a great service speaking frankly about the danger of US mass spying, one of her recommended solutions would likely make the problem worse. Rousseff declared that the United Nations "must play a leading role in the effort to regulate the conduct of States with regard to these technologies." However, decentralizing and reducing government control of the internet and telecommunications is a better approach than concentrating control in an international government organization. Indeed, people are starting to vote with their feet in an effort to bypass US spying. Among other actions, people are exiting US-based cloud computing. A "one-size-fits-all" UN solution risks limiting such protective options.
Read here Glenn Greenwald's Guardian article from July that exposed the US government's snooping on Brazilians.
Read here RPI Advisory Board Member Andrew Napolitano's latest column regarding the US mass spying program.