Setting the tone for the 68th U.N. General Assembly session, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff took her fight against spying by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to the gathering of world leaders as she blasted the American government for its secret surveillance programs and also put proposed new rules for the governance of internet traffic and protection of citizen’s privacy.
Making good use of the U.N. tradition as per which every plenary session opens with a speech from Brazilian delegation, Ms. Rousseff called the U.S. intelligence program “a grave violation of human rights and civil liberties; invasion and capture of sensitive information relating to business activities and, above all , disregard for national sovereignty”.
Taking the podium before U.S. President Barack Obama, who was present in the assembly when she spoke, Ms. Rousseff minced no words to make it clear that her country would not accept the NSA’s secret activities. “This is unacceptable”, she said, adding that the reports about spying have caused “outrage and disgust” in Brazil.
After a series of stories, on NSA’s spying operations in Brazil and the agency’s spying on her personal communication, written by The Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who is also collaborating with The Hindu on NSA stories on India, Ms. Rousseff had last week called off her state dinner at the White House scheduled for October.
In her speech on Tuesday, Ms. Rousseff asked the U.S. to stop its illegal activities. “Dabbling in this way in the life of other countries is an affront to international law and the principles that should govern relations between them , especially between friendly nations,” she said.
She refuted the U.S. argument that NSA espionage was aimed at combating terrorism and thus protect not only U.S. citizens but of the whole world. “Never can the right to security of the citizens of a country be secured by the violation of fundamental human rights of citizens of another country,” the Brazilian leader said.
“Brazil knows how to protect itself. We will redouble efforts to equip itself with legislation, technologies and mechanisms to protect us from unlawful interception of communications and data…My government will do everything in their power to defend the human rights of all Brazilians and all citizens of the world and protect the fruits of the ingenuity of our workers and our companies,” she added.
But the Brazilian leader didn’t keep herself limited to complaining about the NSA surveillance.
She also presented an eight-point plan for global governance of the internet so that citizens’ rights and government infrastructure are protected. “The United Nations should play a leading role in efforts to regulate the behaviour of states facing these technologies and the importance of the internet, this social network, to build democracy in the world,” she said.
“Brazil will present proposals for the establishment of a landmark civil multilateral governance and use of internet and measures to ensure effective protection of data that travels through it,” Ms. Rousseff added.