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Brazil Becomes Hot Market for Surveillance Technology Ahead of World Cup

"Giants of the surveillance sector get contracts in a number of Brazilian cities during the games of 2014 - from security escanners to remote tracking software." Photo: Agência Pública

Giants of the surveillance sector get contracts in a number of Brazilian cities during the games of 2014 – from security scanners to remote tracking software. Photo: Agência Pública

This article, written by Bruno Fonseca, Jessica Mota, Luiza Bodenmüller and Natalia Viana, was originally published on September 6, 2013 by Agência Pública as part of its #SpyFiles3 special coverage.

Shortly after being informed of US National Security Agency (NSA) spying, President Dilma Rouseff asked ministers Paulo Bernardo (Communication) and José Eduardo Cardozo (Justice) to include in the Marco Civil da Internet, a charter of Brazilian Internet users, a mechanism that allows the suspension of operation of companies that cooperate with international spying schemes. “It could apply to banks, or telephone companies,” said the Minister of Communication.

But the security of sensitive data could also be guaranteed by multinational surveillance companies, given that a large part of the increasing demand for surveillance in the World Cup will be supplied by sector giants – the same companies that provide equipment and software to police forces all over the world, including the American government and the NSA.

Most of them are mentioned in the recent publication by Wikileaks, part of the Spy Files 3 project, a compilation of 249 documents from 92 companies, among them brochures, contracts and metadata referring to some of the business leaders of the sector. They show that, in relation to mega-events, Brazil has become priority for the global surveillance industry.

The Extraordinary Secretariat for Large Events (SESGE) has been acquiring a number of technologies for public security. Two hundred million Brazilian reais [nearly 87 million US dollars] have been spent on national-level contracts. And the industry of surveillance equipment is betting heavily on taking advantage of this opportunity. In recent years, a number of industry fairs have taken place in the country.

When surveillance specialists get together 

In July, in Brasilia it was ISS World‘s turn, bringing together policy, security officials and intelligence analysts for training in legal interception, high tech electronic investigations and networked data collection. Financed by the biggest in the sector, like Gamma Group, Hackingtean, Cobhan Surveillance, Hidden Technology, GlimmerGlass and the Brazilian firm Suntech, the directors of these companies lead workshops.

For example, some courses taught participants how to use social networks as open sources in criminal investigations, or how to better use Facebook: from security on Facebook through to retention of data and interaction with security forces. Another training, given by the firm Group 2000 Netherlands, looked at the how interception of data works at a national level, combined with LBS (location-based service) – a computer programming service that allows for inclusion of place and time in a system as it is used. The firm IPS also featured social media and webmail: the architecture of Big Data for mass interception, beyond the course on “expert intrusion” of social networks and webmail. The Brazilian company Suntech, which is now part of the American group Verint, funded a whole day of training, with special focus on interception of telecommunications.

Beyond the ISS, the LAAD (Latin American Aerospace & Defence), one of the main fairs of security and defense companies in Latin America, has been held in Brazil since 1995, with support from the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Justice. In recent years, mega-events have been the principal focus of this fair, home for a great deal of business in the sector.

In 2011, for example, the Ministry of Defense announced a project for the Integrated Border Monitoring System (SISFRON), based on a network of sensors interlinked with control and command systems. The military wanted to accelerate the construction of the system because of the World Cup and the Olympics. The estimated cost, $6-7 billion reais [between $2.7 and 3.1 billion US dollars], enthused international markets. The reason: in spite of national firm Embraer being given the construction of the system, the Saab Group of Sweden, made it be known that its German subsidiary MEDAV will supply, as a subcontractor, the mobile and static sensor systems for the program, allowing for the monitoring and identification of HF, VHF, and UHF frequencies.

This year more than 30,000 visitors attended LAAD, which hosted 720 exhibitors from 65 countries, among those present representatives from the Ministries of Defense of the Ukraine, United Kingdom, Argentina and South Africa. In 2014, year of the World Cup, a smaller version, only on security, is set for April 8-10, in Riocentro.

Look out for the second part of this report, coming soon.

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