BRICS Cable: An alternative internet

Darren Clark's picture

Recent allegations of widespread internet spying by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) vindicate the so-called BRICS Cable, an alternative world internet system independent of the US and Britain that is already being built by Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

The documents leaked by US NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden show the NSA and the GCHQ, the NSA's UK counterpart,  taped into internet cables passing though the the US and the UK..

The proposed BRICS cable would be a fibre-optic link running from the Brazilian city of Fortaleza, through Africa and Asia, to Vladivostok, Russia.

The BRICS Cable would span 34,000 km (21,000 miles) and be ready for use by the end of 2015. It would connect with cables running to Europe and the Middle East.

There would be a link from Fortaleza and Miami, but unlike the current situation where most of Central and South America's internet data is routed through a location in Miami, there would be no need for data to travel through Florida.

As an alternative to the existing US-centric internet, many see the BRICS Cable model of "cyber sovereignty" as conceivably empowering authoritarian states' ability to monitor their citizens’ online activities.

American Internet freedom advocates such as Vinton Cerf see alternative internets such as the BRICS Cable as hampering the free exchange of information online and balkanizing the internet. 

However, widespread internet spying and cyber attacks such as the Stuxnet attack on the Iranian nuclear program which seem to primarily originate in the United States will force countries to wall-off themselves from the current US-centric internet. 

In her speech to UN general assembly on Tuesday, September 24, Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff raised the important security, personal freedom, and economic issues involved in the United States NSA internet spying on Brazil: "Personal data of citizens was intercepted indiscriminately. Corporate information – often of high economic and even strategic value – was at the Centre of espionage activity."

Widespread spying by the United States' NSA seems to have reached the level of "an authoritarian state monitoring its citizens online activities" and should be credited for the balkanization of the internet that will follow.

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