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We are the flag of Portugal on the internet


The Portuguese language and Internet governance
Heber Maia
CGI.br, Secretary of Digital Government, Ministry of Economy of Brazil
The Portuguese language and Internet governance
The Internet is today the main territory of communication. It is a multimedia environment where a countless number of networks are interconnected. Communicational messages can be transmitted in various formats, text, images, audio and video. Practically all means of communication developed by humanity are capable of being transmitted and reproduced with instantaneous replication capacity and practically global reach. A content published on the Internet becomes practically omnipresent in every corner of the planet.

All this technological advance also calls for reflections on the ways in which languages evolve, strengthen and spread. The strength of a language in this unprecedented environment of disruptive and transformative technologies also depends on the ability of its speakers to work on adapting this language and preparing it for linguistic technologies.

Within the framework of Internet governance, we can think of two fronts of work: 1) content production; and 2) protection of language speakers. The first concerns the promotion of the language through the production of content and digital solutions to be made available to its community of speakers. The second relates to the need for national and international internet regulations that suit the realities of languages, and the creation of mechanisms to protect this community against the dissemination of hate and segregationist discourses such as misogyny, homophobia, racism, among others. 

The digital solutions and applications made available on the network have a direct impact on people's daily reality. With them we can learn new contents, we can have access to leisure moments, we are able to diagnose health problems, develop new knowledge and innovate. There are almost infinite possibilities of use. However, the inexistence of contents and applications in the language of a certain population leads its individuals to seek solutions in other languages. Or excludes these individuals from access to innovations due to not mastering another language. Today it is rare for a technological innovation not to reach English speakers first. Many innovative technological solutions even reach or benefit a large part of the non-English speaking population.

On the other hand, regarding the protection of Portuguese-speaking peoples in the pluri-territorial space of the Portuguese language on the Internet, we need to develop digital solutions and legislations that preserve Portuguese speakers from discriminatory attacks and violent speeches, disinformation and manipulative contents. Protecting privacy and personal data is also part of this effort.

This is a role of Internet governance and its results can be enhanced through a joint action between the countries that officially adopt the Portuguese language. We need to broaden the debate on the impacts of the Internet on Portuguese speakers and the possible positive effects of a unified and collaborative action.

Please note: the articles on this blog may not convey the opinion of .PT, but of its author.
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