Rousseff proposes an international forum on Internet regulation

Brazil's president calls for a conference to discuss the rules for Internet use and to prevent spying

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff.
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff.UESLEI MARCELINO (REUTERS)

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff has proposed holding an international forum to sign off on a set of rules and regulations for the Internet that would prevent spying. And she has done so just when it seems like every day a new voice joins the outcry against the illegal spying activities of the National Security Agency (NSA) on citizens, businesses and political leaders from various countries around the world.

Rousseff's suggestion came during an radio interview on Thursday. She recommended holding a forum to create a multilateral and international framework that heads of states, academics, and other representatives of civil society would discuss at a meeting to be held in April 2014 in Brazil.

The president said she already has the support of Fadi Chehadé, president of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). "We defend an open, democratic, participatory and neutral Internet, without restrictions," Rousseff said on Radio Itatiaia in Belo Horizonte, state capital of Minas Gerais. "Most countries will want to join this process. The civil framework will safeguard the information that circulates on the Internet in order to protect citizens and businesses," she continued.

Rousseff denounced the spying activities of the NSA calling them "inadmissible" and she pointed out the increasingly strong reactions from other countries that have fallen under the spying scope of the agency.

The excuse offered -that illegal tappings are used to fight terrorism- does not justify, according to Rousseff, hacking her personal email accounts and those of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Rousseff had previously suggested the creation of an international body to oversee the Internet during her opening speech at the 68th General Assembly meeting at the United Nations in New York right at the height of the controversy with President Barack Obama.

"I fought against authoritarianism and censorship, and I cannot but defend, in an uncompromising fashion, the right to privacy of individuals and the sovereignty of my country," she had said. She then added that "in the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no effective democracy. In the absence of the respect for sovereignty, there is no basis for the relationship among nations."

Antonio Patriota, Brazil's new representative at the UN and ex-minister of Foreign Affairs, said that the issue of spying would be "a priority during his tenure."

Patriota said that Brazil was already working with other countries such as Germany to safeguard the right to privacy -a right that Rousseff said was nearly inseparable from freedom of expression.

The South American country wants to rally as much support as possible for the project which, according to Patriota, may also be taken up for discussion in the Security Council or the Assembly General at the United Nations.

Translation: Dyane Jean François

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