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Brazil to Ditch Microsoft E-Mail In Federal Communications

Let no one underestimate how angry Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is at the “Five Eyes” spying on the most sensitive of her country’s communications.

In recent weeks it has been revealed that the NSA tapped into the communications of Brazil’s ordinary citizens, of Rousseff’s private network, and of the state oil company, and that for good measure its Canadian counterpart went after the Mining Ministry. (It also probably didn’t help Rousseff’s mood that the “Second Eye” harassed one of her citizens, David Miranda, at a London airport for nine hours under a “terrorism” law.)

As previously reported, Rousseff has responded by calling on the United Nations to essentially take over the internet, and despite domestic opposition by initiating a series of measures designed to insulate Brazil from the surveillance. One might be skeptical of the chances of either of these moves being ultimately successful, but that will not stop Dilma herself.

And that she means business is illustrated by an item in today’s Folha de São Paulo. Specifically, Brazil’s Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo has announced that a decree will be published in a few days directing that for federal communications Microsoft’s Outlook e-mail system will be replaced by the already developed indigenous system Serpro (Serviço Federal de Processamento de Dados). (corrected Google translation):

“The president called me in [last] Thursday [the 10th] and said she plans to make it a rule for the federal public administration,” he said. “For public companies generally it will not be required, at least not at the moment. But it will be mandatory for all federal administration.”

How secure will this system be? According to Bernardo:

“We have no notice of leaks from the emails in the private networks. Of course it can happen, but it has to be a much more sophisticated system. At least Serpro is not going to hand it over on a platter for guys to read anytime they want.”

He estimates that the changeover will be completed during the second half of 2014.

I think some phones are ringing in downtown DC with calls from Redmond, Washington.

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E. F. Beall

E. F. Beall