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NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Markus Trienke, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Michael S Adler, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Benh LIEU SONG (Flickr), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

JohnDarrochNZ, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stefan Krause, Germany, FAL, via Wikimedia Commons

Dimi Dimitrov

Open letter to protect Wikipedia and other public interest projects in the Global Digital Compact

Wikimedia Europe has signed an open letter, penned by the Wikimedia Foundaiton, that calls on UN Member States to protect Wikipedia and other public interest projects in the forthcoming Global Digital Compact. The Global Digital Compact initiative is a unique and pivotal opportunity to shape our digital world in a manner that advances the public interest and supports sustainable development for everyone, everywhere.  UN Member States have the chance to embrace a positive vision for the internet’s future that supports and empowers diverse communities everywhere to build and operate free and open knowledge projects. The Wikimedia projects, including Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, provide the world with the largest free and open, multilingual, intercultural, universally accessible repository of educational materials ever created. The volunteer-run Wikimedia projects have formed a community-led ecosystem that champions information integrity. They serve as digital public infrastructure for openly licensed, neutral, encyclopedic content in over 300 languages. Wikipedia’s experience of over two decades has taught us that the internet needs to be open, global, interoperable, and inclusive in order to serve all of humanity. To that end, three essential commitments should be included in the text of the Global Digital Compact:

We need a Digital Knowledge Act

A digital knowledge act for europe

In December 2023 the Communia Association, which Wikimedia Europe is a member of, rolled out the idea of a Digital Knowledge Act at the European Union level. A EU regulation that makes the interests of knowledge institutions, such as libraries, universities and schools, a top priority. 

In the past five years we have seen the EU tackling various specific digital issues through legislation – content moderation through the Digital Services Act, market power through the Digital Markets Act, data sharing through the Data Act and the Data Governance Act. All these were necessary steps, we believe, they however treated institutions, such as libraries, archives, universities and schools, almost as an afterthought.  

Read More »We need a Digital Knowledge Act

Cyber resilience Act – it’s a wrap!

We finally have a deal on the Cyber Resilience Act.

It is a EU regulation thought up to make internet-connected products safer. With other words, it tackles the IT security and software maintenance of your smart toaster and AI-powered fridge. The tool originally chosen is to create obligations to manufacturers and/or vendors. We were involved in these negotiations because the newly proposed obligations could have seriously messed up the free & open software ecosystem. 

Perhaps not intended, but the initial proposal and some of the interim versions didn’t clearly protect free software and would have risked that individual, volunteer contributors of code to free software projects are liable and have to comply with the same stringent obligations as large companies. 

Read More »Cyber resilience Act – it’s a wrap!

Europe Needs Digital Public Spaces That Are Independently Moderated and Hosted

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

Who Should be Liable for Free Software? 

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? 

Wikimedia Position on EU Proposals for a Liability Carve-Out of Free and Open-Source Software

Current proposals like the Cyber Resilience Act[1], the Directive on Liability for Defective Products[2] 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

Update on Net Neutrality in the EU

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

DSA: Political Deal done!

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!

DSA: Trilogues Update

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