South America looks for technologies to keep US spying at bay

26 September 2013
By Tereza Pultarova
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Ecuador's foreign minister Ricardo Patino said South American countries are working on a system to prevent being spied on

Ecuador's foreign minister Ricardo Patino said South American countries are working on a system to prevent being spied on [Credit: 
Presidencia de la República del Ecuador]

12 South American nations have launched a project to create a communications system to prevent US surveillance programme from collecting data about the countries.

The information was revealed by Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino in an interview with Reuters at Ecuador's mission to the United Nations in New York City. Initiated after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the extent of US spying activities, the project is currently being considered by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).

"We have decided to begin to work on new Internet communication systems of our countries, of our societies, to avoid continuing being the object and prey of illegal spying that U.S. spying entities have developed against us," Patino said.

UNASUR, consisting of 12 South American governments, has assigned its defence council to research the options and implement the idea.

"The ministers of defence have instructed their technical teams to examine the project," Patino said. "I understand there have been meetings at a technical level to advance the creation to minimize the risk of espionage."

However, Patino has not revealed any technical details, saying the project is still ‘in diapers’.

"We need technological development," he said. "This has to be constructed but all our countries have started working in this direction."

South American countries have been among the most vocal critics of the practices of US surveillance agencies. Earlier this week, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, speaking to the U.N. General Assembly, accused the United States of violating human rights and international law through espionage that included spying on her email.

Rousseff had expressed her displeasure last week by calling off a high-profile state visit to the United States scheduled for October over reports that the NSA had been spying on Brazil.

She proposed an international framework for governing the Internet and said Brazil would adopt legislation and technology to protect it from illegal interception of communications.

Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia have previously offered asylum to whistle blower Snowden after Ecuador first studied the idea, Patino said. Snowden is in Russia after Moscow granted him a year's asylum on Aug. 1.

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