As Brussels is locking down, some of the few conversations still happening
physically in town are the TERREG trilogue meetings. The E-Evidence file is
stalling in its EP committee (good!). Meanwhile we are gearing up for the
proposals on data governance and the Digital Services Act package.
Anna & Dimi
This and previous reports on Meta-Wiki:
Terrorist Content Regulation - TERREG
Hard to believe that this mess could get any messier, but here we are. The
German Presidency of the EU presented a compromise that makes us think an
enthusiastic law enforcement intern had been charged with a task of
drafting a law that should protect fundamental rights. As a result, all
content would be terrorist unless proven otherwise by a government or a
platform, and that would include both journalistic and artistic materials.
Because who is better equipped to evaluate all these inconvenient truths
than those trustworthy actors? Yes, sarcasm is our coping mechanism. But we
are also working with our partners and sending feedback to all participants
of the trilogues to let them know that the only trajectory such a law would
have is from the EP vote into the Court of Justice of the EU pipeline.
Taking a lot of important information down along with itself, of course.
If you want to join the activities, please get in touch with us. Every
voice from every Member State counts.
The E-Evidence Regulation aims to streamline the process of a prosecutor or
judge in one EU country asking for electronic evidence.  One example is
Facebook Messenger communications data. Another example is which IPs opened
with Wikipedia URLs. It is this second instance that worries us. Under the
newly proposed rules prosecutors could request and receive such data
without a judges consent, which is currently required.
While the lead committee in Parliament fights to keep the old
categorisations and thereby judicial oversight, the Council has already
agreed to the new principles.  There, especially France and Belgium
are pushing for the new categorisations. Germany, Greece, Sweden, the
Netherlands are critical thereof. But the issue being largely disregarded
nationally and Germany holding the Council Presidency, a solid block of
opposing countries isn't forming. We should and will raise some awareness
by publishing blog posts about this situation in several languages.
Digital Services Act Package
The three Legal Affairs committee reports we wrote about last month 
have passed the plenary vote. This of course doesn’t change the fact that
they continue to be non-binding. One thing that changed, though, is that an
amendment by MEP Wölken (S&D DE) passed narrowly that foresees the phasing
out of targeted advertising and the eventual introduction of a full ban on
this practice.  It was interesting to observe the reactions by ress
publishers, who largely lobbied in favor of the reports which include
stricter rules on gatekeeper platforms. They quickly changed track and
started pushing back against stricter rules on advertising as part of the
Meanwhile, France said it wants harmful content to be included, else, it
plans to add obligations to its national law on separatism. Portugal, which
will take over the Presidency of the Council in January, stated that a
common set of requirements, including transparency, should apply to all
platforms but also that specific rules should apply to the largest online
players. The big tech lobby association EDiMA positioned itself on the
question of the hotly debated “Good Samaritan” principle  by trying to
give it its own spin. It says that platforms should not lose liability
protections if they start to proactively remove illegal content of their
Data Governance Act
On November 11 the European Commission is expected to present a Regulation
on European data governance a.k.a. the Data Governance Act. There has been
a public consultation, which we participated in.  From what is being
discussed around Brussels and online events, the Commission sees data as a
key element to both Artificial Intelligence and industrial development.
They want to make more public data re-usable, including personal data. They
also want to encourage companies to share their date across sectors and to
make it easier for individuals to make their personal data re-usable for
the public good.
As is the tradition with such files, there has been a leak to test the
waters.  It shows that the Regulation will work along three vectors:
1. Enhanced Use of Data Held by Public Sector Bodies: There are datasets
that public bodies hold that cannot be opened up in the traditional way on
the grounds of confidentiality and protection of personal information.
Therefore public bodies are to establish secure environments where data can
be re-used (e.g. mined) within the institution. Anonymised data could be
provided if the re-use can’t happen within the public bodies
infrastructure. In case the data can’t be anonymised and can’t be processed
within the public body, there needs to be a legal basis under the GDPR for
its transmission outside of the public body. But such transmission is never
to happen outside of the European Union.
2. “Data Sharing Service Providers”: The Regulation will establish an
authorisation regime for what are essentially data trustees. These can be
intermediaries set up by multiple companies or individuals. They need to be
separate from other operations, need to follow a strict set of rules, will
act as clearinghouses for pooled data and will be prohibited from
3. ”Data Altruism”: The idea is to make more data available for the “public
good”. Data subjects will be allowed to share their data, including
personal data, to authorised organisations. The authorisation regime for
entities seeking to collect data based on data altruism includes a list of
requirements. The entity must be functionally separate from other
operations. The permission by data subjects must be specific, explicit and
legitimate and the data subject must have the tools to withdraw consent at
any moment. Only non-profit organisations based in the EU will be covered.
Commission adopts new Open Source Software Strategy 2020-2023
A Communication (not just a press release, so it is an official mandate)
under the theme ‘’Think Open’’ commits the Commission to increase its use
of open source not only in practical areas such as IT, but also in areas
where it can be strategic. According to the document, "open source code
is available to all, which helps to create interoperable,
non-discriminatory and transparent procedures for access to data, AI and
machine learning training methods and models." It comes with no binding
targets, but it does set up an office with the mandate to popularise open
source across Directorates and agencies. It is also a public document that,
interestingly, makes the point that open source is good for European
*COVID-19* reveals the *crucial importance of digital civic engagement* and
informational freedom for years to come. It will serve as a reference point
for pointing out the *merit of voluntary work for Wikipedia *all over the
So WMDE decided to focus it's* summer policy brief *on how Wikipedia helps
people all over the world with vital and trusted medical information
Wie Wikipedia uns durch unsichere Zeiten hilft")
in june and distributed it to 6 federal parliamentary comittees of
relevance for free knowledge.
We now had it translated to provide it to Wikimedians who might find it
useful, e.g. for approaching policy makers in their local contexts:
*"COVID-19: How Wikipedia helps us through uncertain times"
*Our main calls to parliaments and governments:*
- support and express appreciation for digital voluntary work (e.g. by
implementing funding programmes)
- public authorities ought to provide access to publicly funded data
from administrative bodies, public institutions etc. in freely accessible
and editable formats
- support secure legal frameworks in this context
- support evidence-based approaches to regulating online platforms (EU
digital services Act)
Hope you might find the policy brief useful and happy about any feedback!
project manager public policy
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