Published 02/22/2023 17:48 | Edited 2/24/2023 12:18 PM
This Wednesday (22) began in Paris, France, the event “Internet for Trust”, organized by Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva forwarded an open letter to the Director General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, which was read at the opening of the conference.
The content of the text reinforces the need for a global effort for digital platforms to guarantee the strengthening of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
More than three thousand representatives of governments, regulatory bodies, digital companies, universities and civil society participate in the event, points out the entity. The Minister of the STF (Supreme Federal Court), Roberto Barroso, journalist Patrícia Campos Mello and digital influencer Felipe Neto participate in the meeting that also brings together Nobel Prize winners, such as Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021 .
The conference is expected to start the construction of an international document with guidelines for the regulation of digital platforms in order to combat disinformation, hate speech and conspiracy theories.
defense of democracy
In the letter, Lula points out that the benefits brought by digital platforms “are distributed disproportionately among people of different income levels, increasing social inequality”. This situation has accentuated the risks to democracy, to civilized coexistence between people and to public health.
Among the situations pointed out is the misinformation disseminated during the covid-19 pandemic, which contributed to thousands of deaths.
Another reference in Lula’s letter is the attacks that took place on the headquarters of the Three Powers, in Brasília, on January 8th.
“What happened that day was the culmination of a campaign, begun much earlier, that used lies and misinformation as ammunition. And it had, as targets, democracy and the credibility of Brazilian institutions. To a large extent, this campaign was conceived, organized and disseminated through various digital platforms and messaging applications. He repeated the same method that had already generated acts of violence in other parts of the world. This has to stop.”
With these indications, Lula called on the international community to work to provide answers to questions regarding digital environments in order to seek a balance between individual freedom of expression and society’s right to receive reliable information.
For this challenge, the president of Brazil asks for transparency and social participation for the construction of guidelines that regulate the area. The text also brings the perspective of development and sovereignty of developing countries in this process, so that they are not just “data exporters or passive consumers of content”, he adds.
See the letter in full below:
Letter from the President of the Republic to the Director General of UNESCO
To Her Excellency Mrs.
Director General of UNESCO
Madam Director General,
I would like to thank you for the invitation to participate in the UNESCO Global Conference that will be held in Paris between the 22nd and 23rd of February 2023.
Digital platforms, in their different modalities, are a fundamental part of our daily lives. They define the way we communicate, how we relate and how we consume products and services. The development of the internet has brought extraordinary results to the global economy and our societies. Platforms help to promote and spread knowledge. They facilitate trade. Increase productivity. They expand the offer of services and the circulation of information.
These benefits, however, are distributed disproportionately among people of different income levels, increasing social inequality. The digital environment has led to market and power concentration in the hands of a few companies and countries. It also brought risks to democracy. Risks to civilized coexistence among people. Public health risks. The spread of misinformation during the pandemic has contributed to thousands of deaths. Hate speech claims victims every day. And those hardest hit are the most vulnerable sectors of our societies.
The whole world witnessed the attack by extremists on the headquarters of the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary Powers in Brazil last January 8th. At the end of the day, Brazilian democracy won and came out even stronger. But we will never cease to be indignant at the scenes of barbarism that Sunday.
What happened that day was the culmination of a campaign, begun much earlier, that used lies and misinformation as ammunition. And it had, as targets, democracy and the credibility of Brazilian institutions. To a large extent, this campaign was conceived, organized and disseminated through various digital platforms and messaging applications. He repeated the same method that had already generated acts of violence in other parts of the world. This has to stop.
The international community needs to work now to provide effective responses to this challenging issue of our time. We need balance. On the one hand, it is necessary to guarantee the exercise of individual freedom of expression, which is a fundamental human right. On the other hand, we need to ensure a collective right: the right of society to receive reliable information, and not lie and misinformation.
Nor can we allow the integrity of our democracies to be affected by the decisions of a few actors that today control the platforms. Regulation should guarantee the exercise of individual and collective rights. It must correct the distortions of a business model that generates profits by exploiting users’ personal data. To be efficient, the regulation of platforms must be prepared with transparency and a lot of social participation. And at the international level, it must be coordinated multilaterally. The process launched at UNESCO, I am sure, will serve to build a plural and transparent dialogue. A process that involves governments, experts and civil society.
At the same time, we must work to reduce the digital divide and promote developing countries’ autonomy in this area. We need to guarantee access to the internet for everyone, foster education and the skills necessary for an active and conscious insertion of our citizens in the digital world. Developing countries must be able to act sovereignly in the modern data economy, as agents and not just as data exporters or passive consumers of content.
This conference at UNESCO is the beginning of our debate, not the end point. I am certain that Brazil will be able to significantly contribute to building a fairer and more balanced digital environment, based on transparent and democratic governance structures.
I take this opportunity to convey the best wishes of my highest esteem and consideration.
LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA
President of the Federative Republic of Brazil
Watch how the opening of the Conference was, with the reading of the Letter sent by Lula and the participation of Felipe Neto in a table with the Nobel Prize winner, Maria Ressa.
*With UNESCO information