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.
European Union is dreaming of becoming a global digital powerhouse. This dream is neither unfounded nor silly. On the contrary, we have everything that’s needed to build a resilient European internet. Unfortunately, as our human dreams tend to, the “Path to the Digital Decade” Policy Programme compiles big words with old solutions and seemingly random actions. Does it mean that we will sleep through the opportunities of the decade that, whether we prepare for it or not, is bound to be digital?
FKAGEU feedback on the Policy Programme “Path to the Digital Decade“
A frame, a performance in 3 acts and an umbrella
With its strong balance between freedom of business and interventionism, founded on long traditions of freedom of expression and access to information paired with functioning political instruments to legislate across national jurisdictions, Europe is uniquely positioned to regulate, shape, invest and inspire the emergence of the European internet. So where are we with that?
To recap: we have the existing framework of the Digital Single Market: “the digital Schengen” aimed at legislating to lift barriers of access to products and services. This framework is embodied through the legislation ranging from the new directive on copyright in DSM, geo-blocking regulation, terrorist content regulation (sic!) as well as the three acts that are now going through the legislative process: Digital Markets, Digital Services and Artificial Intelligence Act.Read More »Path to the Digital Decade: do EU policy-makers dream of electric sheep?
We have it! Both the Council of the European Union and the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee adopted their versions of the Digital Markets Act. After the upcoming EP Plenary vote we will spend a good part of 2022 following the intransparent and unpredictable negotiations between the two bodies. Let’s take a look at what they are bringing to the negotiating table if it comes to big ideas and, above all, new benefits for users.
How it started, how it’s going
After the European Commission showed its proposals for the Digital Markets Act, there were different views on how to make it better; the EC proposal lacked teeth, especially regarding any mechanisms that could break the grip that GAFAM has on the internet. For us, at Wikimedia, the most desired approach would have been to address the business model and not merely base the gatekeeper qualification on turnover and market capitalisation.
It turned out very quickly, however, that the legislators are not in a mood to overturn the status quo. That was not exactly the key objective for the IMCO Committee Rapporteur, although Shadow Rapporteurs managed to introduce good ideas, as we will see below. Now we are awaiting the Plenary vote, most likely on December 16th. It remains to be seen whether the IMCO report will be in any way amended. But it doesn’t seem likely that the changes, if any, are substantial and it is unlikely that the file that the need for is so widely understood would be rejected.Read More »DMA votes: IMCO vs. Council, users vs. Member States
If the EU really wants to revamp the online world, it should start shaping legislation with the platform models in mind it likes to support, instead of just going after the ones it dislikes.
Whistleblowers are important. They often provide evidence and usually carry conversations forward. They might be able to open the debate to new audiences. I am grateful to Frances Haugen for having the courage to speak and the energy to do it over and over again across countries, as the discussion is indeed global.
On the other hand the hearings didn’t reveal anything completely new, we didn’t learn something we didn’t already know. We live in a time where the peer-to-peer internet has essentially been replaced by a network of platforms, which, in their overwhelming majority, are for-profit, data-collecting and indispensable in everyday life.Read More »Editorial: The DSA debate after Haugen and before the trilogues
The ePrivacy Regulation could potentially make communications better by setting a firm standard on how online tools can and cannot be used in profiling and surveilling individuals. We became directly interested in the proposal for a regulation when we realised that the proposed rules on how our chapters and affiliates can communicate with their supporters are ambiguous. Here is the breakdown of the problems and ways out.
How it works now
The Regulation concerning the respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications (a full name of a Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications, or ePrivacy Regulation) is now subject to trilogue negotiations. We specifically look into provisions on the scope of direct marketing. As much as we don’t “market” any services or products for sale to individuals, we all want to keep in touch with our supporters. According to the ePrivacy proposal such communication falls under the definition of direct marketing. This concerns organisations in our movement that contact individuals to solicit donations or to encourage them to volunteer in various ways in support of our movement’s mission.
Currently in several Member States, based on the ePrivacy Directive and subsequent national laws, nonprofits have the right to contact individuals who they were in touch with before, on an opt-out basis. It means that while they present a new initiative or a fundraising campaign, they need to provide the contacted people with a possibility to refuse receiving such information in the future.Read More »e-Privacy: our quick fix to help nonprofits and protect consent
There are many bots on Wikipedia, computer-controlled “user accounts” that perform simple, repetitive, maintenance-related tasks. Most are simple, trained to fix typos or using a list of blacklisted words to determine vandalism. ClueBot NG uses a combination of different detection methods which use machine learning at their core.
Bots on Wikipedia
A bot (a common nickname for a software robot) is an automated tool that carries out repetitive and mundane tasks. Bots are used to maintain different Wikimedia projects across language versions. Bots are able to make edits very rapidly, but can disrupt Wikipedia if they are incorrectly designed or operated. False positives are an issue as well. For these reasons, a bot policy has been developed.There are currently 2,534 bot tasks approved for use on the English Wikipedia; however, not all approved tasks involve actively carrying out edits. Bots will leave messages on user talk pages if the action that the bot has carried out is of interest to that editor. There are 323 bots flagged with the “bot” flag right now (and over 400 former bots) on English Wikipedia. On Bulgarian Wikipedia, a much smaller language version, there are currently 106 bot accounts, but only a number of them are active. Projects by smaller communities sometimes need to rely more on machines for page maintenance.Read More »Meet “ClueBot NG”, an AI Tool to tackle Wikipedia vandalism
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
Shortly before the summer recess, MEPs at the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee concocted close to 1200 amendments to the Digital Markets Act, a proposal construing the category of a gatekeeper and a set of obligations for internet services that qualify as one. Let’s take a look at what the Shadow Rapporteurs, the most important people in the process, proposed and how Rapporteur Andreas Schwab tackled their proposals to date if it comes to expanding users’ choice and autonomy over their data through the DMA.
As customary in committee work, each political group designated a representative to debate the DMA report. With Adreas Schwab (EPP, DE) at the helm, the Shadow Rapporteurs are: Evelyne Gebhardt (S&D, DE); Andrus Ansip (RE, EE); Virginie Joron (ID, FR), Martin Schirdewan (GUE, DE), Marcel Kolaja (Greens, CZ), and Adam Bielan (ECR, PL). Each of them, either individually or with colleagues, filed amendments to the DMA.
Contributions span from reinforcing the autonomy of users, through supporting businesses making use of platforms’ intermediation, to supporting platforms themselves. There is no surprise in the fact that the more left of the political spectrum we look, the more important users’ rights are. Having said that, almost each Rapporteur has an interesting proposal on how to make our life on the platforms easier.
Who is in the scope?
With the exception of ECR’s Adam Bielan, all Shadows want to expand the scope of services that could become gatekeepers. Voice assistants, for which the market is highly concentrated, are on everyone’s list, except Kolaja’s. The Green’s Shadow wants to add connected TV and embedded digital services in vehicles, which include those enabling access to audio-visual content. MEPs Gebhardt and Schirdewan expand on the audio-visual, adding services providing audio and video on demand and streaming services respectively.Read More »DMA in IMCO: Shadows present ideas, Rapporteur shows a compromise
There is an idea to use a “section recommendation” feature to help editors write articles by suggesting possible sections to be added. But it is possible that its recommendations inadvertently increase gender bias. Here’s how we could deal with it.Read More »Wikimedia Projects & AI: Designing a “Section Recommendation” tool without reinforcing biases