With a wave of anger sweeping the South American nations, especially Brazil, the April 2014 meeting could be a game-changer for the management of the world wide web.
As the scandal involving the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) got bigger, Brazil got bolder in opposing its mass surveillance and global spying activities.
After blasting the NSA at the U.N. General Assembly last month, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff this month announced a plan to host a global meeting on Internet governance in April.
“We have decided that Brazil will host in April 2014 an international summit of government, industry, civil society and academia,” Ms. Rousseff had tweeted, after holding consultations with Fadi Chehade, head of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Los Angeles-based organisation responsible for the coordination of global internet systems.
With a wave of anger sweeping the South American nations, especially Brazil, in the wake of revelations on the extent of snooping by the NSA, the April meeting could be a game-changer for the management of the world wide web. Representatives of many countries, enraged by the spying programmes, are expected to take part .
Since June, when NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden escaped to Hong Kong from the U.S., a series of articles in various publications, including The Hindu, have exposed the NSA’s mass surveillance activities. India, from where more than 13 billion pieces of information were picked by the agency’s clandestine programmes such as Prism in just one month, was one of its biggest targets.
While Indian officials have been rather meek in their response to NSA revelations, Brazilia has been outraged by reports of how the NSA monitored the online activity of Brazilian citizens, kept a watch on its diplomatic activities, intercepted the personal communication of Ms. Rousseff and spied on the state-owned oil giant Petrobras.
To protest against these activities, Ms. Rousseff put off a state visit to the U.S., demanded an apology from President Barack Obama.
Her principled stand has sparked a global debate on how the Internet is run. “She spoke for all of us that day. She expressed the world’s interest to actually find out how we are going to all live together in this new digital age,” Fadi Chehade of ICANN told a news agency earlier this month.
“The trust in the global internet has been punctured and now it’s time to restore this trust through leadership and institutions that can make that happen.”
Brazil has not limited its protests to making noises. An official probe by the country’s legislators is on to find out the extent of foreign surveillance in greater detail. Called the Commission of Parliamentary Inquiry or CPI, the probe was set up after it was revealed by The Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald in September that NSA had even intercepted Ms. Rousseff’s online communication.
Mr. Greenwald and his partner David Miranda, who was detained by the British police at the Heathrow airport in August, appeared before the Brazilian Senators investigating the evidence of U.S., British and Canadian espionage last week.
The CPI inquiry is also trying toschedule teleconferencing sessions with Mr. Snowden to understand the extent of NSA penetration of the country’s communication networks.