What do the European AI Act, the European Commission’s Data Strategy, the proposed US Digital Platform Commission Act and the German Digital Strategy have in common? They all name the public interest as a key objective. For good reasons, it is increasingly en vogue for digital policy to be designed as to foster the common good and serve the public interest. But what should public-interest digital policy look like? Wikimedia Deutschland has developed eight requirements against which digital policy projects must be measured if they are to serve the public interest. Transparency and effective participation are needed. Fundamental rights must be protected and damage to the community must be prevented. Digital policy should mitigate inequality, its outcomes must be open and accessible, and it must be collaboratively managed and renewed.
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 Report on the digital commons, initiated by France during the conference “Building Europe’s Digital Sovereignty” (February 2022) was presented at the Digital Assembly co-organized in Toulouse by the French Presidency in June 2022. How well does the report address the future of enriching and accessing the commons 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
When Russia launched its large-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, volunteer editors on Wikipedia leapt into gear to document developments as they unfolded. A look at the record of their edits provides a window behind the scenes of breaking news editing.Read More »Wikipedia covers the Ukraine invasion: a look at breaking news editing
2021 marked the 20th anniversary of Swedish Wikipedia, which we made sure to celebrate on several occasions here in Sweden. Today, almost nine out of ten Swedes regularly use the website, and polls show that it is one of only a very few platforms that Swedes find trustworthy across the political spectrum. More and more institutions and organizations realize the importance and value of working with the Wikimedia platforms. In its 2021 report, the Swedish Museums Association finds that out of the 233 million reported digital views of their members’ works, 185 million originated from Wikipedia. And then only 19 out of their 230 members reported Wikipedia statistics, indicating that the real number could be much higher.
Wikimedians don’t, however, operate in vacuum. In 2021, Wikimedia Sverige saw more and more reasons to intensify our efforts to safeguard the free and open internet, especially when it comes to protecting the rights and freedoms of the users. Pretty much everyone loves Wikipedia, but not everyone understands that Wikipedia can only thrive in a digital sphere where legislation allows for creativity and sharing.
In this text, we will try to outline some of the major battles Wikimedia Sverige fought in 2021, some of the achievements – and some of our hopes for the future. On top of the support that we, as always, give our lobbying team in Brussels.Read More »Retrospective: A Year of Advocacy at Wikimedia Sverige
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.Read More »Retrospective: a year of advocacy at Wikimedia France
The fight over the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market has shown that European copyright rules affect the operation of Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects. Global rules are equally important. Negotiations take place in Geneva, at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Wikimedia Deutschland and the Free Knowledge Advocacy Group are committed to increasing transparency around WIPO negotiations on international copyright law, and shaping WIPO-level policy outcomes, especially facing the pressure by rightsholders’ to expand the scope of copyright protections. This is the third installment of a series on Wikimedia’s involvement at WIPO (see part I and part II).
China blocked the Wikimedia Foundation’s bid for observer status at WIPO. This is the second time this has happened after the Foundation’s initial application in 2020. Wikimedia’s exclusion sets a worrying precedent and should alert European lawmakers who are concerned about the democratic governance of intergovernmental organizations.
Unsurprising yet still disappointing
China’s move during last week’s general assembly session didn’t exactly come as a surprise. It was again the only country to explicitly object to the accreditation of the Wikimedia Foundation as an official observer. Since WIPO is generally run by consensus, any one country may veto accreditation requests by NGOs. The Foundation will reapply for official observer status in 2022, but it will only be admitted by WIPO if China decides to change its mind.Read More »You Shall Not Pass! Wikimedia Foundation Denied Observer Status At WIPO
In the second half of 2020 the Wikimedia Foundation received 380 requests for content alteration and takedown. Two were granted. This is because our communities do an outstanding job in moderating the sites. Something the Digital Services Act negotiators should probably have in mind.
See the organisational chart in full here
Wikipedia is a top 10 website globally anyone can edit and upload content to. Its sister projects host millions of files uploaded by users. Yet, all these projects together triggered only 380 notices. How in the world is this possible?Read More »Takedown Notices and Community Content Moderation: Wikimedia’s Latest Transparency Report