Brazil was not bluffing last year, when it said that it would disconnect from the United States-controlled internet due to the NSA obscenely invasive surveillance tactics. The country is about to stretch a cable from the northern city of Fortaleza all the way to Portugal. This is a big deal.
At first glance, Brazil’s plan to disconnect from the U.S. internet just seemed silly. The country was not happy when news emerged that the NSA’s tentacles stretched all the way down to Brazil. And the country was especially not happy when news emerged that the NSA had been spying on the Brazilian government’s email for years. But really, what are you gonna do?
Brazil made a bunch of bold promises, ranging in severity from forcing companies like Facebook and Google to move their servers inside Brazilian borders, to building a new all-Brazilian email system. Then, of course, there was the plan to lay a cable from Brazil to Europe. And with news that the cable plan is in place and set to begin in 2015, it looks like Brazil is serious; it’s investing $185 million on the cable project alone.
The implications of Brazil disconnecting from the US internet are huge. It’s not necessarily a big deal politically, but the economic consequences could be tremendously destructive. Brazil has the seventh largest economy in the world, and it continues to grow. So when Brazil finally does divorce Uncle Sam—assuming everything goes as planned—a huge number of contracts between American companies and Brazil will simply disappear. On the whole, researchers estimate that the United States could lose about $35 billion due to security fears. That’s a lot of money.
We knew there would be backlash to the Snowden leaks, but it’s not just political; Edward Snowden cost the United States a lot of money, even if that wasn’t his plan. Yet here we are, waving goodbye to any and all information technology revenue from Brazil. Godspeed, Brazil. We’re going to miss you. [Bloomberg]