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

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

Stefan Krause, Germany, FAL, via Wikimedia Commons

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

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

Naphsica Papanicolaou

Retrospective: a year of advocacy at Wikimedia France

Wikimedia France looks back on 2021, a year of advocacy campaigns at national and European level. Bringing the voice of community-governed platforms such as Wikipedia – besides the commercial ones – is not always easy. And while legislators and policy makers receive our arguments and concerns generally positively, there is still a long way to go before our messages and initiatives claim to be embedded in the texts that shape and frame the digital of tomorrow.

Several bills have, this past year, impacted Wikimedia projects and particularly the collaborative online encyclopedia, Wikipedia. Without going into a Prévert-style inventory, Wikimedia France wants to come back to some of its battles that it has carried out relentlessly, in order to defend a vision of a free and open Internet, protecting the rights and freedoms of users.

The Republican Principles bill or “the French DSA”

The bill reinforcing respect for republican principles, originally called “law project against separatism”, was not intended to regulate digital platforms. Indeed, the main objective of this text was to “fight against radical Islam and separatism”. But policy experts ended up qualifying it as a “catch-all”, insofar as a lot of subject matter had been inserted into it, including digital issues.

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Wikimedia France: new anti-terrorist bill exposes users to mass surveillance

Remember when we learned that Wikipedia was a target of widespread NSA surveillance? Wikimedia Foundation challenged the NSA program siphoning communications directly from the backbone of the Internet in the court. Today in France we may face a similar issue in the form of a new antiterrorist law that would add a grave threat to privacy to the censorship of the Terrorist Content Regulation. 

Protecting Wikipedia from mass surveillance

In May 2013 Edward Snowden revealed the existence of several American and British mass surveillance programs. The Wikimedia Foundation and other non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have filed a complaint against the NSA, accusing it of violating the first and fourth amendment of the American Constitution, and of having “exceeded the authority conferred on it by Congress”. 

As a result, on June 12th 2015, the Wikimedia Foundation announced the use of the HTTPS communication protocol for all Wikimedia traffic, with a view to countering the mass surveillance exercised by the NSA, which took advantage in particular of the inadequacies of the non-encrypted communication protocol. 

Now, over to France

The new proposed French anti-terrorism bill fits well in the mass surveillance trend, attacking fundamental rights of online users. Presented by the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, on April 28, it proposes a number of security measures inherited from the state of emergency of 2015 and the law of 2017 on internal security and the fight against terrorism. It also validates tools such as “black boxes”, responsible for detecting terrorist threats using user connection data, while expanding their use.

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The truth is out there: 8 steps to tackle disinformation in the EU

In the context of dangers magnified by the spread of disinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic and the mixed results produced by the voluntary Code of Practice on Disinformation, the European Commission called for input from stakeholders on this topic. It is as much a fight for trustworthy knowledge, as it is against false online disinformation. This struggle is hardwired into the Wikimedia movement, starting with the very first Wikipedia entry.

Wikimedia community in search for truth

Unbalanced exposure of citizens to misleading or fabricated information is a major challenge for Europe and the world today. There is no technical or financial magic bullet: all actors in the digital and political ecosystem must work to implement concrete and coherent actions to improve access to trustworthy information sources and contain the spread of online disinformation. We need an array of cascading long-term policies and actions.

Wikimedia communities have always worked towards creating credible and reliable sources of information and have always sought to recognise and limit the spread of unreliable sources and non-factual information. Specific attention and community rules exist across the projects on estimating which sources are reliable and can be used on Wikipedia, for instance.

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