Brazilian government wants answers from US following reports of NSA spying in Brazil

The NSA reportedly leverages the partnerships that a U.S. telecommunications firm has with foreign companies to access foreign data

The Brazilian government has formally asked the U.S. government for clarification regarding the alleged large-scale interception of electronic communications of Brazilian citizens by the U.S. National Security Agency.

The NSA intercepts telephone and email records from multiple countries, including Brazil, by leveraging the partnerships that a major, but unnamed U.S. phone company has with the local telecommunications firms and ISPs in those countries, Brazilian newspaper O Globo reported Sunday based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The newspaper published images from the documents it had access to that suggest Brazil is the most monitored country by the NSA in Latin America.

In addition to collecting data from U.S. online service providers through its Prism program, the NSA is also performing upstream interception of communications through a program called Fairview, the newspaper said.

It's not clear whether the local Brazilian companies are aware of how their partnerships with the unnamed U.S. company are being used.

Documents previously leaked by Snowden revealed that the NSA used secret court orders issued by the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to force Verizon Business Network Services to provide the agency with information on phone calls passing through its systems on an ongoing basis.

The Brazilian government is gravely concerned about the news that the electronic and telephone communications of Brazilian citizens were the subject of spying by American intelligence agencies, said Brazilian Minister of External Relations Antonio de Aguiar Patriota on Sunday. The Brazilian government has requested clarification from the U.S. through the Embassy of Brazil in Washington and the U.S. ambassador to Brazil, he said.

The Brazilian government will promote the improvement of multilateral telecommunications rules within the International Telecommunication Union and will launch initiatives within the U.N. to prevent the invasion of privacy of users of electronic communication networks and ensure that the sovereignty of all countries and their citizens' rights are protected in the field of information and telecommunications, Patriota said.

The O Globo report comes after a week ago, German magazine Der Spiegel reported that the NSA systematically collects telephone and Internet connection data from Germany. Secret NSA documents suggest that the intelligence agency is more active in Germany than in any other European Union member state, the magazine said at the time.

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