Opportunities for Brazil in BRICS in Technologies and Digital Connectivity

Brazil is part of the BRICS group: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. There are opportunities in this geostrategic partnership.

At the 2021 meeting, some interesting points were set.[1] In the field of the digital economy, there are recommendations for strengthening the digital infrastructure to favor cooperation and the promotion of new technologies that facilitate access to digital products and services.

Another recommendation is to digitalize the health sector through exchange programs in digital medical technologies among BRICS countries. In addition, it is recommended to strengthen the adoption of the smart factory with the exchange of best practices. Moreover, best practice exchange programs are encouraged, with sharing of experiences and collaboration on digital skills.

There are incentives to promote the development of digital trade platforms, with integration for small and medium-sized enterprises’ participation in exploring new markets. There are guidelines for the promotion of infrastructure financing and the exchange of best practices between countries. There are incentives for monetization of assets for investment in infrastructure construction and product and technology exchange among BRICS member countries to favor exports. There is the goal of improving logistics and transport and, respectively, connectivity with a focus on developing digital frameworks and interface for international logistics.

There is the intention of cooperation in the management of cities and urban infrastructure in the post-covid scenario. Another goal is developing green infrastructure and promoting sustainability best practices to attract investments in sustainable infrastructure. The creation of common platforms and a BRICS network is encouraged to facilitate the exchange of best practices and experiences in precision technology for sustainable agriculture and intelligent management of climate change. Another goal is to facilitate the exchange of information regarding digital platforms for farms and precision agriculture.

There is also the objective to explore regional corridors for Agritech innovations. The creation of an agroforestry forum is also sought. The objective is to create favorable conditions for the expansion of agricultural trade among the BRICS countries. There are considerations on strengthening supply chain resilience. Another goal is the promotion of the digital economy and tools to support trade between countries. There are programs for strengthening micro, small, and medium enterprises to strengthen development. Another topic is the establishment of mutual recognition agreements in authorized economic operator programs.

In the context of the digital economy, the sharing of experiences, best practices, and collaboration is sought for artificial intelligence in governance efficiency. There is the goal of strengthening digital infrastructure and cooperation for the promotion of new technologies and access to digital products and services, especially in 4G, 5G, artificial intelligence, robotics, internet of things, 3D printing, augmented reality, nanotechnology, biotechnology, quantum computing, among others. There is an intention to promote digitalization in the health and medical sector and exchange programs to develop digital technologies applied to health (local and global) among the BRICS countries. There is a demand for best practices exchanges in the smart factory segment, with systems connected by sensors. There are programs for the exchange of digital skills, with training in infrastructure and connectivity.

Another objective is to promote the development of local digital trade platforms and facilitate the integration of micro, small, and medium enterprises to explore new markets. Another theme in financial services is cooperation in financial technology (FINTECH) among BRICS countries. The sharing of experiences with digital technology is desired for the adoption of security and compliance parameters. Another aspect is the promotion of intellectual property financing through harmonization and adoption of evaluation methodology. As for medical equipment, there are incentives to create an environment for strengthening trade between the BRICS countries. There are several opportunities for Brazil. First, the expansion of its digital infrastructure in telecommunications networks and, respectively, the expansion of connectivity on a large scale, with the contribution of BRICS technology providers. Second, the expansion of Brazilian foreign trade through global digital platforms. Third, cooperation on cybersecurity issues, taking advantage of Russia’s and China’s experience. Fourth, the exchange of best practices on precision farming issues. Fifth, the robotization of factories, especially with Chinese technology. Sixth, the renewal of medical-hospital equipment through the import of technologies from BRICS countries. Seventh, the strengthening of the defense capacity of submarine cable networks, taking advantage of Russia’s and China’s expertise. Eight, there is the export of subsea oil and natural gas exploration technology from Brazil to BRICS countries.

Finally, there are opportunities in the scope of remote sensing services, a specialized niche strategic for agriculture, maritime transport, and air navigation, among other segments.

*All rights reserved. This article must not be reproduced or used without mentioning the source.

Ericson Scorsim. Lawyer and Consultant in Regulatory Communications Law. Ph.D. in Law from the University of São Paulo (USP). Author of the book “Jogo geopolítico das comunicações 5G – Estados Unidos, China e impacto sobre o Brasil” (The Geopolitical Game of 5G Communications – United States, China, and Impact on Brazil).

[1] BRICS. Business Council. Brics Business Council Annual Report. Intra-BRICS Cooperation for continuity consolidation and consensus. India, 2021.


European Union’s Strategic Plan on Digital Connectivity

The European Union has released its strategic action plan for the digital decade. The goal is to strengthen its digital capacity and freedom to act, considering the scenario of hyper-connectivity and technological transformations.[1]

This digital plan is in the context of the European Union’s strategic autonomy for 2040.[2] It considers the trend towards the redistribution of global power, given the geopolitical and economic disputes between the United States and China. Faced with this perspective, the European Union seeks to assert its geostrategic position in light of the risks of this dispute for global leadership. In this way, the European Union seeks geostrategic alliances to counteract the United States and China. The digital action plan includes economic measures, technological commitments, social equity standards, educational commitments, environmental commitments, and regulatory frameworks.

Competitiveness is multidimensional and deepens interdependencies in the global multipolar order. Hence the need for appropriate measures to meet the new demands in the field of digital connectivity. There is a warning about the risks of large-scale disinformation by online tools and platforms and the risks of hybrid threats. Capacity building is sought in data management, artificial intelligence and technologies, and edge computing. It points out the exponential demand for semiconductors to prepare the next technology generations.

Given this context, the European Union wants to take the first step regarding its global positioning in setting technological standards for artificial intelligence, blockchain, quantum computing, cybersecurity, and sensitive data, among others. It also wants to build resilience for the financial systems. Access to space is sought to mitigate risks of conflict, internal instability, and disruption of critical infrastructure. The plan also includes more assertive actions to contain coercive actions or extraterritorial sanctions imposed by countries outside the EU. In the connectivity agenda, strategic partnerships are wanted. The United States, through the BUILD Act and Blue Dot Network, intends to undertake partnerships with Japan and Australia in quality infrastructure in the context of the G7.

China and the United States have different approaches regarding partnerships for connectivity. Both are ahead of the European Union when it comes to influencing internet infrastructure. China’s 2035 strategic plan to set international standards in emerging technologies and areas such as industry and agriculture stands out. There are opportunities for the EU to partner with Japan and India on digital connectivity. In the program for the digital decade, the EU Commission points to the following critical areas:  European common data and services infrastructure, strengthening the EU with the next generation of reliable low-power processors, development of pan-European 5G corridors, acquisition of supercomputers and quantum computers connected with EuroHPC, development of ultra-secure quantum communications and space infrastructures, development of a security network of operations centers, connected public administration, European blockchain infrastructure, and services, European digital innovation hubs, high-tech partnerships for digital skills through the pact for digital skills, among others. The digital decade program also contains digital targets to be achieved by 2030:

– Sustainable digital infrastructure so that all European households will be covered by a Gigabit network, with all populated areas covered by 5G;
– The production of cutting-edge and sustainable semiconductors in
Europe, including processors, is at least 20% of world production in value;
– By 2025, Europe will have its first computer with quantum acceleration;
– 75% of European enterprises have taken up cloud computing services, big data, and artificial intelligence;

– More than 90% of European SMEs reach at least a basic level
of digital intensity;

 – Europe will grow the pipeline of its innovative scale-ups and
improve their access to finance, leading to doubling the number
of unicorns;

-100% online provision of key public services available for
European citizens and businesses

-100% of European citizens have access to medical records (e-records)
-80% of citizens will use a digital ID solution;
– 80% of citizens aged 16-79 have at least basic digital skills
– 20 million employed ICT specialists, with convergence between
women and men;

There are governance rules for monitoring and reporting on the progress of the digital targets. Member states are to submit strategic roadmaps on the implementation of the targets. Multi-country projects will be encouraged as a form of cooperation between the EU and member states to contribute to society and the economy’s digital and sustainable transformation. There will also be a European digital infrastructure consortium.

For Brazil, there are opportunities in strengthening geostrategic partnerships with the European Union on issues of digital connectivity, 5G, 6G, IoT, including issues of international standardization of new technologies and cybersecurity. To this end, Brazil must prepare itself with knowledge and good practices in technological issues, with human capital training specialized in the respective themes.

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Ericson Scorsim. Lawyer and Consultant in Regulatory Communications Law. Ph.D. in Law from the University of São Paulo (USP). Author of the book “Jogo Geopolítico das Comunicações 5G: Estados Unidos, China e o Impacto no Brasil.” (Geopolitical game between United States and China on 5G technology: impact in Brazil).

[1] European Comission, Brussels, 8.9.2021, Communication from the Comission to the European Parliament and the Council, 2021 Strategic Foresight Report. The EU’s capacity and freedom to act.

[2] European Comission, JRC Science for policy report. Shaping & securing the EU’S open strategic autonomy by 2040 and beyond.


U.S. Cyber Diplomacy Bill

The U.S. Senate is considering a bill referred to as the Cyber Diplomacy Act of 2021. This bill consists of a set of measures for diplomacy in the cyberspace.

The bill is part of the United States’ international strategy to promote open, interoperable, secure, and reliable Internet infrastructure.  It is also intended to guarantee cyber policy to promote human rights, democracy, rule of law, including freedom of expression, innovation, and a multilateral Internet governance model.

As for cyber policy, measures must be adopted for deterrence of cyber threats, fostering incentives for open, interoperable, reliable and secure information and communications technology infrastructure, engaging the private sector, academia and other internationally relevant public and private entities in cyber-related issues. Other objectives are: to adopt national measures and programs that enable cyber threat detection, prevention, and response to malicious activity; to promote capacity building by other countries on cyber policy priorities; to promote an international regulatory environment for technology and internet investments that benefit U.S. economic interests and national security; to promote cross-border data flow and fight international initiatives that impose unreasonable requirements on U.S. business; to promote international policies that protect the integrity of the United States and international telecommunications infrastructure before others based abroad; to lead executive agency engagement with foreign governments on economic issues relevant to cyberspace and the digital economy; to promote international policies to secure radio frequency bands for U.S. business and national security needs; to promote initiatives to strengthen civil and private sector resilience to face threats in cyberspace; to build capacity among U.S. diplomats to engage on cyber issues; to encourage the development and adoption by other countries of recognized international standards, policies, and best practices, among others.

Within one hundred and eighty (180) days after the passage of this bill, the Secretary of State must report on the international agreement between the United States and Brazil announced in May 2018. The State Department must present an action plan to guide the diplomatic service to act in the bilateral and multilateral arena with the purpose of developing standards addressing responsible conduct by countries in cyberspace, as well as to share best practices and proposals to strengthen civil and private sector resilience to threats and access to opportunities in cyberspace, review the status of existing efforts in multilateral forums to obtain commitments to the system of  international standards in cyberspace.  The State Department will review the policy related to instruments available to the President to deter and de-escalate tensions with foreign countries, state-funded agents, private agents, related to threats in cyberspace, assessing the tools used, and whether such tools have been effective deterrents. 

The human rights report must also be issued, as per the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.   The Comptroller General of the United States must, no later than one year from the publication of this Act, report on the extent of United States diplomatic efforts and procedures with other countries, including multilateral forums, bilateral engagements, negotiated agreements on cyberspace-related issues, advice to the Department of State on its organizational structure, and approach to diplomatic efforts to advance the full scope of United States interests in cyberspace, including an analysis of current diplomatic missions, structures, funding, activities, and more. This U.S. cyber diplomacy bill is set in the context of the geopolitical dispute with China for global leadership. The act is clearly intended to promote the interests of the United States beyond its borders. Therefore, the Cyber Diplomacy Act of 2021 implies challenges, risks and opportunities to Brazil, including designing its domestic and foreign policy considering exponential demands for cyber diplomacy. In fact, Itamaraty – the Brazilian Foreign Ministry – and, respectively, Brazilian diplomats will need to be trained to face these new challenges related to cyberspace, which include economic, commercial, cultural, and cyber defense challenges.

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Ericson Scorsim. Lawyer and Consultant in Communications Regulatory Law. PhD in Law from the University of São Paulo (USP). Author of the book The Geopolitical Game between the United States and China and the Impact on Brazil, 2021.


5G Technology and the Open Ran (Open Interoperable Networks) Standard

5G (fifth generation) technology applicable to telecommunications networks will be the new global standard. In this context, a potential conflict arises regarding intellectual property. 5G technology providers have significantly invested billions of dollars in the research and development of their products. For this reason, they have registered several trademarks as a result of such R&D (research and development) investments.

The leading global suppliers of 5G technology are Ericsson (Sweden), Nokia (Denmark), and Huawei and ZTE from China. Paradoxically, the United States has no global 5G technology provider. On the other hand, there are telecom service providers and network infrastructure installers that need to acquire 5G technology. This technology involves equipment from the core network, peripheral network, and base station radio equipment. North American telecommunications and technology companies have started to advocate a technical standard called Open Ran, i.e., Radio Access Network. They want an open standard for access to radio frequency networks that enables competition, innovation, and diversity of vendors of this technology.

The Open Ran Policy Coalition is lobbying its interests before the Federal Communications Commission[1]. In Brazil, the Open-Ran Alliance was created and sent a letter to Anatel (the Brazilian Telecommunications Regulatory Agency), signed by Qualcomm, Cisco, IBM, Cpqd, Trópico, and PADTEC, among others. In Europe, there are also steps toward the assertion of the Open-Ran standard in 5G telecommunications networks. The specialized media reported that Telefonica and Deutsche Telecom are interested in this open standard. Japan, through the company Rakuntem, has reportedly started tests with Open-Ran. Germany has reportedly set up a fund to encourage the Open-Ran standard. 

The conflict, therefore, involves four parties. First, telecommunications service providers. Second, 5G technology manufacturers. Third, there are companies interested in entering the telecommunications market. Fourth, the regulatory agencies will have to take a position on the issue. This conflict is within the context of the dispute between the United States and China for global leadership. The Final Report of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence highlights the dispute over intellectual property between the United States and China, even accusing China of promoting intellectual property theft.

The one who holds the right to authorize or not the licensing of their technology to third parties owns its intellectual property. That includes collecting royalties for the assignment of such patents. If the patent holder decides to refuse to license, the case can be taken to court. Or it could be that the patent holder has designed its technology so that it is incompatible with use by other operating systems. 5G technology Open-Ran advocates argue for an open telecommunications network, which they say would provide greater interoperability, competitiveness, innovation, diversification of 5G technology manufacturers and suppliers, and network security. But the Federal Communications Commission has raised several questions about Open Ran, particularly regarding the security of telecommunications networks.[2] Also, it has questioned whether Open-Ran is secure for public communications. 

The imbroglio over Open-Ran stems from the US government’s ban on the supply of 5G network equipment by Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE.  At this time, the United States does not have any company with the capacity to serve its domestic market. Therefore, this is a structural problem in the supply chain of 5G telecom network equipment. Hence the desire for Open-Ran, an open standard that ensures interoperability between equipment from different  5G technology manufacturers and suppliers. In the new law called the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021, a part is dedicated to creating incentives for semiconductor production in the United States within the context of the Open-Ran of 5G telecommunications networks. In Brazil, Anatel has begun to debate Open-Ran telecommunications networks. Its technical department has manifested that public resources from Funtel (the national telecommunications fund) should be used to develop the open telecommunications network architecture. There are challenges, risks, and opportunities in regulating the issue. The adoption of Open-Ran represents the flexibility of intellectual property rights (patents) on 5G technology, resulting from intensive investments in research and development by telecommunications network equipment manufacturers. It should be noted here that the company Alga Telecom is interested in adopting the Open-Ran standard for 4G networks.

Adopting open architecture gives rise to challenges and risks related to cybersecurity. It remains to be seen whether regulatory agencies around the world will enforce this new Open-Ran standard for 5G technology or whether they will adopt a stance of technology neutrality, letting economic forces in the market freely settle the issue. In principle, it is really not up to the regulatory agency to set the technology standard. But the critical point here is the cybersecurity of telecommunications networks. If there is a change from closed telecom network architecture to open network architecture, is there mitigation of the risks of cyberattacks on telecom networks?

After all, when it comes to telecommunications networks, we are talking about the integrity, reliability, and security of networks and data and the confidentiality of users’ communications. Therefore, the issue is sensitive and deserves broad and profound analysis by Anatel.  Anatel said it will procure academic studies to assess Open-Ran’s regulatory, economic, and political issues. The topic involves big businesses: telecommunications companies, Big Techs, and network equipment technologies suppliers. Big Techs are interested in extending digital connectivity, hence the interest in Open-Ran, which represents cost savings in the deployment of telecom networks. The trend is of digital convergence between telecommunications and information and communications technology systems. It seems that software will dominate due to the virtualization of networks and cloud computing, and edge computing adoption. Despite all this, it is critical to consider the digital ecosystem as a whole, including the verticals impacted by the technological changes in the debate: civil society and the end-users. Initially, there are three regulatory options: i) Anatel does not regulate the issue, leaving it to the free-market forces to define the question; ii) Anatel regulates the issue, especially concerning the cybersecurity of open networks; iii) the market players opt for self-regulation. In short, the path is under construction. 

A final consideration about the Open-Ran context: the United States has the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), known as Digital Telephony. This law obliges telecom companies to adopt network equipment that enables the interception of communications. Therefore, US equipment manufacturers are required to comply with the law. In addition, the US intelligence services use advanced techniques for espionage by infiltrating hardware, software, and telecommunications networks, satellites, and submarine cables. In other words, the US intelligence services collect intelligence data (SIGINT) from telecommunications networks.   So there are risks that Open-Ran could be used to extend the collection of intelligence signals from mobile telecommunications networks. The United States’ fight with China’s Huawei seemingly reveals this national intelligence issue. As Huawei is a foreign company with closed technology, it presents greater obstacles to the interception of communications on telecommunications networks by the United States. The main accusation by the United States against Huawei is that the company spies for China’s government services. And doesn’t the United States do the same thing, through its companies and its intelligence services? Recently, the international media reported a spying scandal against the German government by the Danish intelligence services at the behest of the United States.

US private companies are required to cooperate with national intelligence services, just as what happens in China. Moral of the story: Both the United States and China can spy and perform covert actions on telecommunications networks anywhere in the world. In the face of this, where does Brazil stand? How will it protect its communications sovereignty and secure its telecommunications networks? It is up to the Brazilian Congress and Anatel to answer this question.  

All rights reserved. This article must not be reproduced or used without mentioning the source.

Ericson Scorsim. Lawyer and Consultant in Communication Law, focusing on Technologies, Infrastructures, the Internet, Media, and Telecommunications. Ph.D. in Law from the University of São Paulo (USP). Author of the book “Jogo geopolítico das comunicações 5G – Estados Unidos, China e impacto sobre o Brasil” (The Geopolitical Game of 5G Communications – United States, China, and Impact on Brazil), published on Amazon.

[1] Open Ran Policy Coalition, Comments of the Open Ran Policy Coalition, before the Federal Communications Commission, April, 2020.

[2] Federal Communications Commission, Notice of Inquiry. In the matter of promoting the deployment of 5G open  radio access network, March 18, 2021.


Brazil Needs a Non-Espionage Agreement on 5G Technology

By Ericson Scorsim*

The fifth generation (5G) telecommunications network technology presents challenges, risks, and opportunities for Brazil. Among the challenges and risks is cyber sovereignty over telecommunications networks and protecting the confidentiality of communications.

The cyber environment, integrated by telecommunications networks and information and communications technologies, targets influence operations wars, disinformation, and cyber-attacks. Another coveted intelligence asset is radio frequencies, essential for military operations and use in reconnaissance, monitoring, surveillance, and targeting, and valuable in electronic warfare.

Against this backdrop, the United States and China are vying for the lead over 5G technology. There are accusations by the US government of spying carried out by the government of China through the company Huawei. The concern is covert (backdoor) telecommunications network equipment capable of performing espionage for the Chinese government.

The US’s position towards vetoing the presence of a 5G technology supply is understandable. But the position taken by the United States is radical, denying free trade between the countries by prohibiting access to its market to one of the competitors, in this case, Huawei. So trade protectionism lies behind this national security issue, as there is no global leader in 5G technology from the United States.

The scenario of this geostrategic competition is in the book “Geopolitical Game between the United States and China in 5G Technology: Impact on Brazil”, which I authored, published in 2021.

Fixed and mobile telecommunications networks are critical national infrastructures of a country: they are targets for political and economic espionage and cyber-attacks. They are prime targets for espionage because they provide interception of communications. These are critical points for collecting sensitive information about people, subjects, and governments. These services operate at various layers: hardware, microchips, software, applications, fiber-optic network infrastructures, undersea cable networks, satellites, cloud computing, etc. The goal is to gain strategic, political, and economic advantages for the spying country over the target country.

Telecommunication networks, the Internet, 5G technology, satellites, undersea cables, and information and communications technologies are considered dual-use technologies, i.e., civilian and military functions. Thus, there is greater regulation by the US government, including control of exports and technology transfer to other countries.

Knowing this scenario, an interesting geostrategic alternative for Brazil is negotiating a non-espionage agreement with the United States. If there is interest from US companies in providing open architecture and interoperable (Open-Ran) technology in 5G telecommunications networks, the country must be protected from foreign intelligence services.

Several countries spy on Brazil, and, paradoxically, it is not technically able to spy on other countries. Therefore, Brazil must build its technical capacity regarding self-defense measures. In addition to this, this same type of non-espionage agreement can be negotiated with China, as Huawei is a major 5G technology supplier.

The advance of 5G technology shows us how critical it is that the leading global countries move forward on regulating cyber warfare and more stringent control of intelligence services’ actions. Transparency measures need to be taken to democratize intelligence gathering activities of governments, companies, and citizens and respect for the rights to confidentiality of communications and privacy.

*Ericson Scorsim is a Lawyer and Consultant in Communication Law, focusing on Technologies, Media, and Telecommunications. Ph.D. in Law from the University of São Paulo (USP). Author of the book “Jogo geopolítico das comunicações 5G – Estados Unidos, China e impacto sobre o Brasil” (The Geopolitical Game of 5G Communications – United States, China, and Impact on Brazil), published on Amazon.


Ebook Kindle Geopolitical game between United States and China on 5G technology: impact in Brazil

Author: Ericson Scorsim

Year: 2021

Sold by: Amazon Servicos de Varejo do Brasil Ltda

The book “Geopolitical Game between the United States and China on 5G technology: impact on Brazil”, by Ericson Scorsim, provides a comprehensive overview about the many geopolitics’ themes on 5G technology. This new technology is object of controversy between Unit States and China on global leadership, having an impact in Brazil in many aspects.


Geospatial Intelligence and Precision Agriculture and Livestock Activities

Ericson Scorsim. Lawyer and Consultant in Regulatory Communications Law. Ph.D. in Law from the University of São Paulo (USP). Author of the book “Jogo geopolítico das comunicações 5G – Estados Unidos, China e impacto sobre o Brasil” (The Geopolitical Game of 5G Communications – United States, China, and Impact on Brazil), published on Amazon.

Several advanced technologies have been applied in the agricultural sector. The trend is toward the digitalization of rural areas through increased connectivity in the field.

Currently, geospatial technology is used to perform precision farming services. With high computing power and infrared vision, it is possible to monitor various aspects of the crops from satellite images. From pest control, soil moisture, climate, plant health. This type of geospatial technology serves several interests. On one side, farmers benefit from more precise information on crop areas, best times for planting and harvesting, productivity, rainfall rates, cost reduction, among other relevant data.

On the other hand, commodity investors benefit from more reliable information for their investments and risk analysis concerning commodity trading.  In addition, rural credit institutions will have better conditions to assess risks and determine the respective rural credit collateral. And, still, in the context of 4G and future 5G telecom networks, these are complementary to satellite services.

The terrestrial dimension inherent to rural areas is complemented with the aerospace dimension. IoT (internet of things) networks are being used in rural areas to collect real-time data with agricultural information. Humidity, temperature, and biochemical sensor, and weather stations are equipment that optimizes rural productivity.  Of course, several precautions need to be taken to protect the farmers’ data. There are challenges, risks, and excellent opportunities regarding the use of geospatial intelligence in agriculture and livestock activities. 

* All rights reserved. This article must not be reproduced or used without mentioning the source.


European Union and Computing Power: On Edge Computing

Ericson Scorsim. Lawyer and Consultant in Regulatory Communications Law. Ph.D. in Law from the University of São Paulo (USP). Author of the book “Jogo geopolítico das comunicações 5G – Estados Unidos, China e impacto sobre o Brasil” (The Geopolitical Game of 5G Communications – United States, China, and Impact on Brazil), published on Amazon.

The EU Commission presented its understanding of Europe’s digital decade on March 9, 2021.[1] The goal is to ensure Europe’s digital sovereignty by building technological capabilities. The document emphasizes cloud computing, artificial intelligence, digital identity, and computing power and connectivity infrastructures.

When it comes to edge computing, the EU wants to bring the edge capacity (technology end-users) closer to the telecommunications networks. Another goal is to secure the production of semiconductors in European territory by 2030. The EU also wants to promote international engagement through strategic partnerships with countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. It is worth highlighting the incentives to build cloud computing providers in European territory by installing data centers and electronic communication networks by European companies.

Regarding edge computing intelligence, there is mention of monitoring programs for autonomous vehicles and their respective security. The autonomous vehicle projects will rely on 5G, IoT, and edge computing networks to work correctly, as they will depend on a network of sensors installed in the cars, on the streets, and on the roads, capable of processing real-time information on the movement of the vehicles and warning signs about the presence of other vehicles and/or pedestrians.

Another application of edge computing refers to smart farming projects, in which agricultural machinery is connected through a network of sensors to facilitate precision farming and agriculture. And yet another application of edge computing refers to manufacturing as a service to enable local access to cloud computing networks. As for projects in the health area, there is data collection and data recording at the local level in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. Furthermore, edge computing is expected to provide processing capacity for local public administration in the government sector. In addition to the cloud computing and edge computing ecosystem, with potential benefits for European businesses and public administration, there is also a need to advance computing power through investments in supercomputing technologies and quantum computing.  Quantum computers will enable the development of medicine by simulating the human body(digital twin), allowing the virtual application of medicines, personalized medical treatments, genome sequencing, etc.

Quantum computing will make it possible to increase the security of communications and data transfer. Thus, quantum computing offers more significant guarantees for the protection of sensitive communications. In addition, it will be possible to improve the monitoring of land, sea, and aerospace resources using ground-based quantum sensors. In addition, quantum computers will make it possible to optimize the use of algorithms in logistical activities to save time and fuel. The European Union’s digital transformation is focused on five ecosystems: manufacturing (connectivity through 5G networks, robotics in factories, artificial intelligence, digital twins, and 3D printing), healthcare (digitalization of the sector), construction (increasing productivity by digitizing activities), precision agriculture (increasing productivity, digital solutions, and pesticide control), and mobility (reducing accidents, traffic safety, efficient fuel consumption).

The European Union’s targets for 2030 include: i) seventy-five percent (75%) of companies will migrate to cloud computing, big data, and artificial intelligence services, ii) more than ninety percent (90%) of European small and medium-sized enterprises will reach basic levels of digital intensity; iii) a favorable environment for innovation and access to financial capital to double the number of unicorns in Europe. As for public services, the EU intends to expand telemedicine services, which have increased significantly during the pandemic. Also, it wants to promote accessibility to digital public services.

In short, the European Union has clear goals for 2030 regarding sustainable digital infrastructure: connectivity (all households to be covered by gigabyte networks, in populated areas with 5G), semiconductors (semiconductor production, including processors, of at least twenty percent (20%) of the value of global production), edge/cloud (10.000 climate-neutral edge points distributed to ensure access to data services at low latency wherever businesses are located), and quantum computing (by 2025, Europe will have the first quantum-accelerated computer).[2]

*All rights reserved. This article must not be reproduced or used without mentioning the source.

[1] European Comission, Brussels, March 9, 2021. Communication from the Comission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the regions. 2030 Digital Compass; the European way for the digital decade.

[2] European Comission. Brussels, 9.3.2021. Annex to the Communication from the Comission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. 2030 Digital Compass; the European way for the digital decade.


United Nations Analyzes the Impact of Information and Telecommunications Technologies on State Sovereignty

Ericson Scorsim. Lawyer and Consultant in Regulatory Communications Law. Ph.D. in Law from the University of São Paulo (USP). Author of the book “Jogo geopolítico entre Estados Unidos e China no 5G: impacto no Brasil.” (The Geopolitical Game between the United States and China regarding 5G: Impact on Brazil.)

The United Nations (UN) has set up a study group on information and telecommunications technologies and global cybersecurity. 

There are several reasons given for the project: the advanced development of new information and telecommunications technologies, the increase in global connectivity, the dual-use nature of information and communications technologies (i.e., civilian and military use), the essentiality of these technologies for government services, the existence of real threats in the exploitation of these technologies that put the security of nations at risk, the expansion of the Internet of Things and the risks associated with it.

Considering this, the study group’s report proposes confidence-building measures between countries on the subject of cyber defense.[1] In particular, the group seeks to construct rules, norms, and principles of state responsibility in terms of international law and cyber defense. It also aims to promote institutional dialogue about the increasing dependence on information and communication technologies.

It is further suggested that states be encouraged to build the capacity to identify and protect national and transnational critical infrastructure and supranational critical information infrastructure. As for the promotion of responsible behavior by the states, a strategy of technological neutrality should be adopted to prevent the abuse of technologies concerning the carrying out of cyber-attacks and the exploitation of information and communication technology vulnerabilities, including the context of “machine learning,” “quantum computing,” and the “Internet of Things.” It is further recommended that states do not adopt “proxies” to commit harmful acts internationally and prevent their territory from being used by non-state actors to commit harmful acts against other countries and/or targets. Thus the suggestion of measures for “building confidence” among the states.

The issue of the right of states to use force in the cyber environment is under debate. States have the right to defend themselves in the cyber environment. However, states’ actions must be guided by international law principles, such as humanity, necessity, proportionality, differentiation, and precaution.[2] As per the UN final report: “States concluded that there are potentially devastating security, economic, social and humanitarian consequences of malicious ICT activities on critical infrastructure (CI) and critical information infrastructure (CII) supporting essential services to the public. While it is each State’s prerogative to determine which infrastructures it designates as critical, such infrastructure may include medical facilities, financial services, energy, water, transportation, and sanitation. Malicious ICT activities against CI and CII that undermine trust and confidence in political and electoral processes, public institutions, or that impact the general availability or integrity of the internet, are also a real and growing concern. Such infrastructure may be owned, managed, or operated by the private sector, may be shared or networked with another state or operated across different states. As a result, inter-state or public-private cooperation may be necessary to protect its integrity, functioning and availability”.[3]

The UN’s concern is that the misuse of information and communication technologies may cause future conflicts between states. In other words, cyberattacks between states can trigger severe conflicts between them. Therefore, the UN wants to deploy confidence-building measures among states through reliable partnerships. In this sense, it recommends installing specialized cyber response teams: computer emergency response teams (CERTs) or computer security incident response teams (CSIRTs). Thus, it is recommended that access to technologies be facilitated for states, that the state sovereignty principle be respected, and that sensitive information’s confidentiality be protected.

On this subject, it should be noted that cyber operations can violate the sovereignty of other countries. A country can address other countries’ critical national infrastructures (telecommunications, energy, financial, water, civil aviation systems, among others). Recently, the specialized media pointed out that France has expanded the number of cyber operations against targets located in other countries. That opened a debate as to whether France was adopting a contradictory practice in terms of sovereignty. On the one hand, France advocates for the purist conception of classical sovereignty in terms of physical territory.  However, on the other hand, France maintains a flexible position of sovereignty in the cyber environment, to the point of attacking cyber targets located in other countries. In this second option, there is simply a denial of another state’s sovereignty in the case of a cyber-attack. France has unleashed several cyber operations: the Emoted (2021), Encrochat (2020), and Retaup (2019).  Operation Emotet was a coordinated operation between France, the Netherlands, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Lithuania, and Ukraine to disrupt emotet malware. The operation consisted of implanting malicious software in command-and-control servers. The emotet malware has also infected computer systems located in other ninety (90) countries. In 2020, the Center for Combating Digital Crime (C3N) of the French National Gendarmerie led Operation EncroChat. The target was the servers of the private company EncroChat that provide encrypted phones for secure communications. Malicious software was infiltrated into the servers of said company, demanding its performance installed on the machines. Upon the update of the software, the malicious agent was installed.

In 2019, after the French Ministry of Defense announced that international law applies to cyberspace, the National Gendarmerie announced the cyber operation against the private company Avast to combat the malicious Retadup virus. This virus infected servers on French territory in command-and-control systems. Military doctrine on the subject (Tallinn Manual 2.0) considers that law enforcement operations led by one State that attack command and control servers located in another State (without the consent of this other State) constitute a violation of the State’s sovereignty considered to be the target. The cyber operation could only be carried out within the territory of the State. Research observatories point to abusive practices by twenty-three (23) states.

Thus, there are two perceptions about the nature of cyber operations. According to author Jack Kenny, there are two possible explanations for this.[4] On the one hand, “purists” argue that persistent cyber-engagement operations with the invasion of other states’ networks to maintain a presence within these networks and, thus, obtain intelligence, could constitute a permanent violation of state sovereignty.

There are cyber policies in this sense of permanent engagement in cyberspace: U.S (“defend forward”), U.K (“active defense”), Canada (“active cyber”), New Zealand (“internationally active” engagement.” Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and others also have active cyber capabilities. In his conclusions, Jack Kenny says: “states that choose not to recognize that a rule of sovereignty applies to cyber operations, such as the U.K., maintain operational flexibility but leave their infrastructure open to attacks that would not be prohibited by a rule of international law below a prohibited intervention. It is clear that for states to develop an understanding of how the rights inherent in sovereignty apply to cyber operations, they must balance the interests of operational freedom with the protection of critical national infrastructure on a state’s territory to identify a ‘half-way house” de minimis threshold at which a violation of sovereignty takes place. Over time, in the absence of a treaty, statements by states by stats on how they interpret the rights inherent in sovereignty to apply with specificity to cyber operations may contribute to the formation of specific customary international law that may focus or clarify the application of such rules”.

In short, the United Nations perceives the problem of conflict between states and/or non-state actors and sovereignty concerning operations conducted in the cyber environment. The concern is with critical national infrastructures that could be classified as military targets. One way to solve this problem is to strengthen the rules, principles, and customs of international law to contain States’ offensive capability in cyberspace and to ensure the self-defense of states in the face of cyberattacks.

Finally, the issue of the impact of information technologies and telecommunications on sovereignty is of interest to Brazil. Further studies, research, and measures are needed to improve the Brazilian State, companies, and individuals’ cyber governance. Currently, cyber defense is a sine qua non condition for the political-electoral sovereignty of the country.

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[1] United Nations, General Assembly.  “Second ‘pre-draft’ of the report of the OEWG on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security.

[2] United Nations, General Assembly. “Open-ended working group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security, 8-12 March 2021.

[3] United National, General Assembly. Open-ended working group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security. Final substantive report, 10 March 2021.

[4] Kenny, Jack. France, cyber operations and sovereignty: the “purist” approach to sovereignty and contradictory state practice. March 12, 2021.


Geopolitics and the Semiconductor (Chip) Industry

Ericson Scorsim. Lawyer and Consultant in Regulatory Communications Law. Ph.D. in Law from the University of São Paulo (USP). Author of the book “Jogo geopolítico das comunicações 5G – Estados Unidos, China e impacto sobre o Brasil” (The Geopolitical Game of 5G Communications – United States, China, and Impact on Brazil), published on Amazon.

In the 21st century, the semiconductor (microelectronics) industry is one of the global economy’s leaders. Microprocessors are present in all electronic devices: computers, smartphones, televisions, cars, routers, and others. The United States, Europe, and Asia dominate the global semiconductor supply chain. The leading global technology suppliers and main consumer markets are in these regions.

The matter of semiconductors is now part of world geopolitics. In 2020, the US government imposed several sanctions on the company Huawei, including banning it from providing 5G network technology to the United States. The US government has also imposed restrictions on the supply of semiconductors to the Chinese company. Paradoxically, although the United States dominates the semiconductor industry, it has no global leader in 5G technology. That is why the United States is lagging behind in the 5G technology international competition.

Recently, the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy announced a plan to invest in research and development in the microelectronics industry to prepare for 5G and 6G technologies. Together with other European countries, including Italy, Belgium, and Finland, Germany signed a declaration on “A European Initiative on processors and semiconductor Technologies,” highlighting that the semiconductor sector is a global industry.  Therefore, it is crucial to invest in all the stages of the production chain: manufacturing of semiconductor equipment, design, production, testing, packaging, among others. The declaration also highlights that investments in research and development in the semiconductor industry are among the highest, representing 15% (fifteen percent) to 20% (twenty percent).

Europe is focused on advancing the semiconductor industry in the aspects of equipment power (batteries), radiofrequency technologies, embedded smart sensors for artificial intelligence, microcontrollers, and more. Thus, the goal is to mobilize the industry’s financiers by building an industrial alliance to establish strategic maps for research and investment in semiconductor ecosystems.  

In summary, the purpose of the industrial alliance is to prepare the European industry for the next generation of low-power processors to be used in 5G and 6G networks. In Europe, the issue of technological and digital sovereignty is on the agenda. Mastering the semiconductor industry and the communications network infrastructure, and the cloud computing industry are understood to be vital to European interests. That is why there are investment programs in European data centers through the Gaia-X program.

The Europeans are researching 5GHz technology. Norway, through its university, is the country at the forefront of this scientific research. Here in Brazil, the federal government approved Decree n.  10.615 on January 29, 2021, which deals with tax incentives for investments in the semiconductor industry. There are tax incentives (PIS, IPI) for importing software. There is a provision for tax benefits for investments in research, development, and innovation to support the advancement of the semiconductor industry, which includes: the conception, development, and design; diffusion or physical-chemical processing and wafer cutting, encapsulation, and thesis, substrate cutting, encapsulation and testing in integrated circuits, information displays, among others.

The Decree also defines research, development, and innovation activities.  We note that Brazil lacks a geostrategic vision of the global semiconductor industry, focusing only on importing components. The previous administration created the Brazilian Semiconductor Company, a state-owned company dedicated to the manufacturing of semiconductors. 

The current administration decided to extinguish this company. Semiconductors are considered a dual-use technology, that is, with both civil and military use. And that is why developed countries consider the semiconductor industry in their geostrategy. Interestingly, the United States, in the National Defense Authorization Act,provides for federal investments in the manufacturing of the semiconductor industry on US territory. Several US states are vying to attract international investment in domestic semiconductor production. 5GHz (five gigahertz) and 6GHz (six gigahertz) technologies will shape the future of countries’ digital economies. A lack of semiconductors can collapse a whole industry.

Dependence on semiconductors produced in other countries is a systemic risk to the country, including its critical national infrastructure. If Brazil does not have a global geostrategic vision on the semiconductor industry, it will miss historical opportunities that could represent a “quantum leap” in developing advanced technologies and the preparation of its digital economy.

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