(AFP) Brazil said on Wednesday it is moving to secure its communications through its own satellite and digital networks to end its dependence on the United States, which is accused of electronically spying on the region.

“Brazil is in favour of greater decentralisation: Internet governance must be multilateral and multisectoral with a broader participation,” the Communications Minister, Paulo Bernardo, told a congressional panel.

Yesterday, Foreign Minister, Antonio Patriota, warned his US counterpart, John Kerry, that the row over Washington’s electronic snooping could sow mistrust between the two countries.

Kerry responded by conceding that Brasilia was owed answers from Washington and would get them.

He suggested that the vast US surveillance programme aimed to “provide security, not just for Americans, but for Brazilians and the people of the world.”

But Bernardo today criticised the “strong concentration of (Internet) traffic” by US firms.

Revelations by US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden about the vast scope of US electronic surveillance programmes have caused deep unease in Brazil and other Latin American countries that have reportedly been targeted by the spying.

Bernardo said Brasilia was finalising the selection of companies that will be tasked with building and launching a geostationary defence and strategic communications satellite.

French-Italian group Thales Alenia Space (TAS) has said it had won a contract worth about $400 million to build a satellite for Brazil’s developing space programme.

The order, placed by Visiona — jointly owned by Brazilian aeroplane maker Embraer and telecom provider Telebras — is for a geostationary satellite for civil and military use.

Telebras said that with the satellite, “high-speed Internet will be extended to the entire nation and will ensure the sovereignty of its civil and military communications.”

Arianespace has been selected to launch the satellite in 2015.

The deal also allows for a transfer of technology between TAS and Brazil, making TAS the preferred industrial partner in building up Brazil’s space programme.

(This article was published on August 15, 2013)
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