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Cable arms. Who and why is fighting with the American monopoly on Internet traffic
Material posted: Publication date: 20-09-2013

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff last week proposed to oblige Internet companies to store all personal information of Brazilian users on servers located inside the country. According to Rousseff, this will put the representatives of the Internet industry under the control of local legislation. After the publication of the Edward Snowden information about large-scale surveillance of U.S. intelligence for Network users, such initiatives are becoming increasingly popular.

The reason for the outrage of Internet companies to the legislation of the countries in which they work, inherent in the technological functioning of the Internet. 99% of the Internet traffic in the world passes through undersea fiber-optic communication lines. Most of them laid in such a way that information transmitted through the cable, must pass through one of the data centers located in the USA. As of 2012, the American data center has processed more than 80 percent of Latin American traffic, more than 40 percent of traffic from Asia and about 20 percent of Internet traffic from Europe.

In addition, the U.S. also are servers of the most popular sites and social networks, the users of which are the billions of people worldwide. Under us law, any information stored on such servers is subject to American law. Thus, personal data of users of Google, Facebook, Microsoft or Apple from Brazil, say, or Russia neither Brazilian nor Russian legislation to defend in any way.

In the summer of 2013 the former employee of the American national security Agency (NSA), Edward Snowden gave the press documents telling about programs of shadowing the Internet, developed by U.S. intelligence. Released documents showed that the NSA and CIA actively intercept, decode and analyze data about the Internet activity of users worldwide. After that, many countries are thinking about how to rectify the situation and to protect themselves and their citizens from the unwanted attention of the security services.

Among other things, the Snowden files, the media learned about NSA surveillance of electronic correspondence of presidents of Brazil and Mexico. The Brazilian government called the actions of the NSA intrusion into domestic Affairs of the country. Because of this, there was even a canceled visit by Brazilian President to the United States scheduled for October 23, 2013. It was then that Dilma Rousseff spoke about his plan for a consistent struggle against the U.S. monopoly in the online sphere.

As stated Rousseff, the project is about making data of Brazilian users on servers located in Brazil, is already under development. How this is done technically, is still unknown, but the Brazilian authorities hope that such a law will put Internet companies under the control of local legislation and many times (at least in theory) to hinder unauthorized access to personal information.

The second step Brazil on the path to greater online independence should be the creation of fiber optic cable that will connect the country — bypassing the US — with communication networks in Europe, Africa and Asia. For the first time about the project of laying the cable began back in 2012. According to the project, a new cable must pass from the Brazilian port of Fortaleza to the Russian Vladivostok and connected by way of Cape town, Mauritius, Singapore, Chennai and Shantou. The completion of the main part of works on cable laying is planned for 2014.

Recently about plans to end the monopoly of American companies in the sphere of control of the functioning and development of the Internet, said not only in Brazil — "de-monopolization" of the Network were discussed by the authorities of China, Cuba, Russia, South Africa and some other countries.

For example, in January of 2013 in Cuba in the test mode connect the underwater fiber-optic cable called ALBA-1 connecting the island with Internet networks Venezuela and Jamaica. Despite the fact that the American cable running between Cancun and Miami, is literally in 32 kilometers from Havana, to connect to Cuban providers can not because of the economic blockade by the US. Did the new system to improve Internet access in Cuba, is still unknown. The timing of release of the work cable to the work power is also not called.

September 1, 2013 decree requiring all foreign Internet companies to mandatory placement on the territory of at least one local server, entered into force in Vietnam. The requirement is valid for all Internet companies operating in the country, not just those that handle and store data of Vietnamese users.

As noted in the government of Viet Nam, the new requirements are aimed at protecting intellectual property and should help to ensure the security of personal data of Internet users in the country. However, it is interesting, that the decree signalled the actual introduction in the Vietnamese segment of the total Internet censorship: the bill at the same time prohibited the publication of materials critical of the Vietnamese government, and generally information that is not personal users (e.g., world news).

Not remain aloof from the debate and Russia. After the scandal around the activities of NSA, the Deputy from "United Russia" Sergei Zheleznyak in June 2013 proposed to transfer all the servers containing the data of Russian users, under the jurisdiction of Russia. According to Zheleznyak, this is the only way to securely protect information of Russian citizens from foreign intelligence agencies. However, prior to the adoption of any specific laws in this area it has not yet reached.

Be that as it may, given how the modern Internet works, it is unlikely that laying costly fiber-optic networks on the ocean floor or move the user data to the internal servers will be able to radically change the status quo. As a rule, information on the Internet is passed along the shortest path. There is a version that on the very "cheap" (this assertion is based on the data released by Snowden), but in any case not by itself a "sovereign".

But what with all these expensive activities you can achieve — so this translation of large volumes of data of their citizens under their own control. Snowden's revelations showed that the surveillance is technically feasible. However, in order to achieve this in practice, governments need not only to create a serious local infrastructure, but also to force its citizens to use data it. As well illustrated by the example of Vietnam, under the pretext of securing user data from U.S. intelligence services make it very convenient.

Viktor Stepanov


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