Friday, September 27, 2013

Brazilian writer Vanessa Barbara mocks NSA spying on her country in guest NYT op-ed

Vanessa Barbara. Photo: Nino Andrés
Earlier this week Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff's gave a blistering speech to the UN general assembly which embodied the most serious diplomatic blowback yet to the NSA, which has been caught snooping on her personal communications. The Times published a debate about the fallout here. From Barbara's op-ed, Have a nice day, NSA:
     Brazil is included in a group of key countries being closely monitored by the N.S.A. under the rubric “Friends, Enemies, or Problems?”
      ...The United States has suggested that its interception of data also aims to protect other nations against terrorism. But Ms. Rousseff had an answer for that, too: “Brazil, Mr. President, knows how to protect itself.”
      The country’s strategy on that matter does not limit itself to diplomatic grumpiness. Ms. Rousseff has also proposed establishing “a civilian multilateral framework for the governance and use of the Internet.” It would ensure “freedom of expression, security and respect for human rights” by protecting personal information online.
      But for now, we citizens have our own plan. It has become something of a joke among my friends in Brazil to, whenever you write a personal e-mail, include a few polite lines addressed to the agents of the N.S.A., wishing them a good day or a Happy Thanksgiving. Sometimes I’ll add a few extra explanations and footnotes about the contents of the message, summarizing it and clarifying some of the Portuguese words that could be difficult to translate.
      Other people have gone so far as to send nonsensical e-mails just to confuse N.S.A. agents. For example: first use some key words to attract their surveillance filters, like “chemical brothers,” “chocolate bombs” or “stop holding my heart hostage, my emotions are like a blasting of fundamentalist explosion” (one of my personal favorites, inspired by an online sentence-generator designed to confound the N.S.A.)

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