Find in this article the regulation for stating wiretapping procedures in Brazil and what are the situations when it is allowed to be used.
Wiretapping Law in Brazil
Wiretapping was not regulated by Brazilian law until 1996. According to law 9.296 of the Civil Code, wiretapping can only happen if it has been authorised by a judge that is conducting a lawsuit and if the intent is to collect evidence during a criminal investigation.
According to Brazilian legislation, wiretapping will be authorised if this is the only way to obtain evidence to prove someone’s involvement in a criminal activity. If there are any other ways to obtain the evidence, request for wiretapping should be dismissed by the judge. Wiretapping procedures are also deemed to be illegal if there is no reasonable indication that the person is involved in a criminal activity. It is also important to state that wiretapping can only be used in cases where the crime qualifies for a jail sentence. The judge will normally receive the wiretapping request digitally and has up to 24 hours to accept or dismiss the request.
Once authorised, the wiretapping request is then valid for up to 15 days. It can also be extended for an equal period according to the judge's decision.
In Brazil, it is not unusual to hear rumours about an investigation that has made use of illegal wiretapping methods. To give an idea about how this practice in Brazil crossed important lines is in 1983 when wiretaps were found inside the presidential cabinet. Even though the law states that criminal proceedings including detention and fines for illegal wiretapping, there is a grey market of providers that facilitate these practices, with a selection of both equipment and service providers.
Sistema de Interceptação de Sinais
In 2010 the Brazilian Federal Police started developing a new integrated wiretapping system known as SIS which is an abbreviation for Sistema de Interceptação de Sinais which means System for Interception of Signals. The system allows the Federal Police to intercept any communication in an operator's network without case by case interaction with telecom operators.
When implemented in 2012, SIS was considered to be a major upgrade for the Brazilian Federal Police and their wiretap operations. Eliminating interactions with telecom operators on a case by case basis did not only reduce the bureaucracy but also reduced the risk of information about wiretapping cases being leaked or for data to be manipulated by disloyal employees of telecom operators. One of the key arguments for the development of SIS was a claim from the Brazilian Federal Police that 20% of the wiretapping orders to telcos were never returned to them.
The budget for the development and implementation of SIS was BRL 38 million when first approved in 2010. Most of the development was and is done by the Brazilian company Suntech who are based in Florianópolis.
Although SIS has become an increasingly important tool for the Brazilian Federal Police it’s not the only tool in their toolbox. The Brazilian company Dígitro also based in Florianópolis, developed a system named Guardião and is a large supplier of wiretapping systems to the Brazilian government. Dígitro’s relationship as a supplier of wiretapping technology to the Brazilian government has been questioned several times over the last decade due the lack of transparency around public bids for wiretapping equipment.
Some units within the Brazilian government do not use the same system as the Brazilian Federal Police for their wiretapping activities. One example is Gaeco that uses the Israeli system Sombra. Gaeco is the special task force against organised crime known as Grupo de Atuação Especial de Combate ao Crime Organizado in Portuguese.
The Brazilian Federal Police is also known to have StingRay type equipment to establish temporary compromised access points for mobile communications.