Since the advent of online platforms, which allow users to openly share content, the structure of the public sphere has been transformed. Until just a few decades ago, we were used to the fact that a significant part of public discourse would take place in publicly-owned and publicly-controlled spaces, be it town squares, parks, city halls, cultural establishments or public broadcasters. In the digital world, what we think of as public spaces are actually mostly private, for-profit, and/or data-guzzling platforms and services. The only very large online platform that is not-for-profit and is maintained by a thriving community of users is Wikipedia. This gives people on the internet agency and empowers them. We believe that the huge dominance of the for-profit, data driven model is a main reason for the greater vulnerability that our societies are experiencing in terms of polarisation, disinformation, and hate. We are confident that using versatile and diverse models of operation of online services and their underlying infrastructure will make society more resilient. It will make democratic, inclusive societies a harder target. For these reasons, we want a significant part of the online public discourse to take place on public or not-for-profit platforms, services, and infrastructure. To achieve the above objective, we suggest three areas of action. 1. Institutional Support Ensure funding for a network of publicly-owned and operated platforms that can host digital cultural heritage and public debates. Regardless of whether we are speaking of a regional museum, a small municipality, or public school, whenever these institutions and communities want to run a project online or share information, they rely on a few dominant, data-monetising services, even for the most basic action of hosting content. European digital hosting infrastructure for public service and cultural institutions is important for sovereignty and… Read More »Europe Needs Digital Public Spaces That Are Independently Moderated and Hosted
The EU’s new software liability framework is coming and FOSS developers should care
Amidst the legislative discussions around AI and cybersecurity, the EU is trying to figure out the right liability framework for software, including free software. Wikimedia shares the view that companies shouldn’t get a free pass for their services just because they open sourced their code. At the same time, we don’t want to see coders, who share their work with the public and peers in order to learn, tinker or to improve a free project, worry about liability too much. They need clear and effective safeguards.Read More »Who Should be Liable for Free Software?
Subject: Open letter from Wikimedia on making encyclopaedias fit for the digital age
Dear Executive Vice-President Vestager,
We kindly request a meeting with you to talk about how to ensure that encyclopaedic knowledge can be fit for the digital age.Read More »Open letter on making encyclopaedias fit for the digital age
Current proposals like the Cyber Resilience Act, the Directive on Liability for Defective Products and proposed amendments to the AI Act include vague and various liability carve-outs for “free and open-source software developed or supplied outside the scope of a commercial activity”.Read More »Wikimedia Position on EU Proposals for a Liability Carve-Out of Free and Open-Source Software
Net Neutrality in the EU seemed like a topic of the past. Something we dealt with, secured and could turn our attention to other issues now. Two significant recent developments show that it remains a dynamic policy field and that we mustn’t forget about it. After all, we want an information infrastructure that allows all users to have equal access not only to Wikipedia and its sister projects, but also to all the citations and sources.
Bad news from the Commission
Very large telecoms companies have wanted to make very large online platforms pay for network use for a while. Now they seem to have found a like-minded EU Commissioner in the face of Margrethe Vestager. The argument of the Danish politician is a modern classic for the EU. It boils down to the fact that very large platforms are responsible for a bulk of the internet traffic, but according to telecoms companies are not paying their fair share to fund the infrastructure.Read More »Update on Net Neutrality in the EU
European Union (EU) lawmakers have agreed on a political deal to establish general online content moderation rules. Several cornerstones include a notice-and-action regime, Commission oversight over very large platforms and certain rules for terms of services.
After the political deal, some technical wording remains to be worked on. The deal is expected to be voted on in Parliament in July 2022. We have previously compared the three stances from a free knowledge point of view. We also analysed the state of negotiations in April 2022. Here is an analysis of the trilogue deal, based on what we know.
We welcome that during the deliberations lawmakers began making a distinction between rules created and imposed by the services provider and rules written and applied by volunteer editing communities. It is a pity that “citizen moderation”, something the internet needs more of, wasn’t recognised explicitly.Read More »DSA: Political Deal done!
European Union (EU) lawmakers are under a lot of self-imposed pressure to reach an agreement on content moderation rules that will apply to all platforms. Several cornerstones have been placed either at the highest political levels (e.g., banning targeted ads directed at minors) or agreed upon on a technical level (e.g., notice-and-action procedures). But there is still no breakthrough on a few other articles, like the newly floated “crisis response mechanism.”Read More »DSA: Trilogues Update
Today, the European Commission has leaked its proposal for a “Data Act”, a piece of legislation that is supposed to include a revision of the Database Directive and the sui generis right for the creators of databases (SGR) it establishes.Read More »Data Act: A small step for databases, an even smaller step for the EU
Yesterday the European Parliament adopted its negotiation position on the EU’s new content moderation rules, the so-called Digital Services Act. The version of the text prepared by the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) was mostly adopted, but a few amendments were added.Read More »DSA: Parliament adopts position on EU Content Moderation Rules
The EU is working on universal rules on content moderation, the Digital Services Act (DSA). Its co-legislators, the European Parliament (EP) and the Council, have adopted their respective negotiating positions in breakneck time by Brussels standards. Next, they will negotiate a final version with each other.
While the EP’s plenary vote on the DSA is up in January and amendments are still possible, most changes parliamentarians agreed upon will stay. We therefore feel that this is a good moment to look at what both houses are proposing and how it may reflect on community-driven projects like Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons and Wikidata.