US, Brazil to restart long dormant Internet working group

The U.S. and Brazil have pledged to restart a long-dormant Internet policy working group in the fall.

The move is a rare step forward on cyber issues for the two countries, which have been at odds on Internet policy since the revelations of U.S. spying in 2013.

ADVERTISEMENT

In fact, Brazil has been one of the most ardent critics of the U.S. surveillance programs exposed by government leaker Edward Snowden in 2013. The South American country was particularly irked by revelations the U.S. had eavesdropped on top Brazilian leaders.

But over a two-day visit to Washington this week, President Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff set aside the spying spat.

On Tuesday, they reasserted the strong relationship between the two countries, releasing a set of bilateral agreements on economic, military, climate and Internet security issues.

Most notably from a cybersecurity perspective, they agreed to resume the United States-Brazil Internet and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) working group.

A second meeting is now set for sometime this fall, more than three years since the group first met in July 2012.

Like similar bilateral working groups the U.S. once had with China and Russia, the U.S.-Brazil group was disbanded over the Snowden leaks and growing tension over cyber espionage.

In the last few years, Brazil has even become a world leader in trying to pass data localization laws in an attempt to keep customer information stored within domestic borders and away from foreign government spies.

But the two countries are hoping the resumption of the working group will help them find common ground.

“The meeting will offer the opportunity of exchanging experiences and exploring possibilities for cooperation in a number of key areas, including e-government, the digital economy, cybersecurity, cybercrime prevention, capacity building activities, international security in cyberspace, and research, development, and innovation,” said a joint statement from Obama and Rousseff.

The White House has been taking strides to firm up its cyber relations with existing allies. In the last few months, Obama has inked cyber pacts with Japan, South Korea and the Persian Gulf states.