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Stefan Krause, Germany, FAL, via Wikimedia Commons

JohnDarrochNZ, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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

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

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

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

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

Dimi Dimitrov

E-Evidence: Let’s Keep Reader Data Well Protected!

A new EU regulation aims to streamline the process by which a prosecutor from one EU Member State can request electronic evidence from a server in another Member State. As current procedures are messy, this is necessary. But the current proposal would also mean that prosecutors could request data about who has read which Wikipedia article without judicial oversight and without a possibility for the country’s authority that hosts the platform to intervene in case of fundamental rights breaches. That is worrisome!

The Wikimedia Foundation gathers very little about the users and editors on its projects, including Wikipedia. This is how the Wikimedia movement can ensure that everyone is really free to speak their mind and, for instance, share information that may be critical of a government in the country they live in. However, the Foundation’s servers do record the IP addresses of users who have accessed Wikipedia, and the individual articles they have viewed. In accordance with the Wikimedia community’s support for strong privacy protections, the Foundation keeps this information for a few months as part of the way its servers function before it is deleted. Allowing access to these IP addresses and the articles that the users behind those IP addresses have read — without judicial oversight — is the issue with the European Commission and Council proposals for an E-Evidence Regulation.

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