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[liberationtech] Brazil Looks to Break from U.S.-Centric Internet

Bill Woodcock woody at
Wed Sep 18 09:40:16 PDT 2013

On Sep 18, 2013, at 9:25 AM, Bill Woodcock <woody at> wrote:
> On Sep 18, 2013, at 8:28 AM, David Johnson <David.Johnson at> wrote:
>> Interesting ... but is this even possible?
> Well, there are a bunch of different concepts being discussed.  The primary one is localization of routing, which isn't just possible, it's best-practice, and something Brazil has been doing an excellent job of already for quite a few years.  If you look at you'll see that they've got 23 active exchanges, which puts them second in the world after the U.S., with 77% annualized growth, compared to 10% in the U.S.  If you look at the Brazil section of you'll see that almost all of that growth has been occurring since they made it an explicit policy goal in 2008, and began aggressively implementing IXP best-practices.
> At a governance level, Brazil is divided.  The CGI, which decides and implements domestic Internet policy, is the agency responsible for all this growth and best-practices-following.  As such, they've been largely aligned with OECD-country and Internet interests.  The Brazilian federal government, on the other hand, sets foreign policy, interacts with the ITU, et cetera.  And so although it has no appreciable influence over what happens _within_ the country, it's what's seen by other national governments in diplomatic circles.  In Internet governance, Brazil tends toward this Brazil-India-South Africa axis, which doesn't particularly align with the Internet or OECD countries, unless by accident.  This is the area that Internet folks are most worried about, since those three countries are second-tier thought-leaders in the ITU, and can swing a lot of developing-country votes in their respective regions.  So Brazil is, in many ways, the U.S.' opposite: they do the right thing domestically, but say the wrong thing internationally. 

Sorry, hit "send" too soon.  The third area is content and the application layer.  Localizing routing doesn't make any difference if users explicitly choose a service that's only hosted elsewhere, so promoting local content and online services is also important, and an inherently good thing (in that it's more efficient from routing, performance, and economic standpoints).  Getting all their users off Orkut, for instance.  :-)

So, my guess is that what happened here is that the Brazilian federal government went to the CGI, asked what the scoop was, got clued in, and crafted the most opportunistic possible spin on what they've already been doing (well) for the past six years.  Because they've already been doing a good job of it, the announcement looks particularly momentous to people who haven't been paying attention.


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