*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
Bleiben Sie auf dem neuesten Stand! Aktuelle Nachrichten und spannende
Geschichten rund um Wikimedia, Wikipedia und Freies Wissen im Newsletter: Zur
Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. | Tempelhofer Ufer 23-24 | 10963 Berlin Tel.
(0172) 89 54 989 http://wikimedia.de Stellen Sie sich eine Welt vor, in der
jeder Mensch an der Menge allen Wissens frei teilhaben kann.
Helfen Sie uns dabei! http://spenden.wikimedia.de/
Wikimedia Deutschland - Gesellschaft zur Förderung Freien Wissens e. V.
Eingetragen im Vereinsregister des Amtsgerichts Berlin-Charlottenburg unter
der Nummer 23855 B. Als gemeinnützig anerkannt durch das Finanzamt für
Körperschaften I Berlin, Steuernummer 27/029/42207.
La rentrée ! Well, kind of… We are still figuring out the COVID rules as we
go and most events and meetings are online. But other than that EU Brussels
seems to be back to business as usual. Your policy team has been working
hard to wrap up “consultation season”, taking positions on the Digital
Services Act, Competition Rules, a Recommendation on Digitising Cultural
Heritage and Electronic Evidence Gathering, among others. Have a fun read!
This and previous reports on Meta-Wiki:
Digital Services Act - Parliamentary Reports
Not one, not two, but three European Parliament committees have adopted a
position on this piece of legislation - the civil liberties and home
affairs committee (LIBE), the internal market and consumer protection
committee (IMCO) and the legal affairs committee (JURI). The fact that so
many committees have reports on the DSA is indicative of a fight over
competency and actually weakens the EP’s voice vis-à-vis the other EU
institutions. We expect IMCO to get the actual legislative file. IMCO with
rapporteur Alex Saliba pitched ex-ante rules for gatekeeper platforms and
stricter rules on targeted advertising.  JURI’s rapporteur Wölken (S&D
DE) managed to get a mandate for clear notice & action procedures instead
of ex-ante content filtering.  In fact, all three reports speak out
against upload filters. All three want the EU to hold on to key principles
of the current E-Commerce directive like limited intermediary liability and
no general monitoring. The IMCO and JURI reports also carry strong
provisions in favour of interoperability.
Digital Services Act - Consultation
We at Wikimedia also submitted our position to the European Commission
consultation on the DSA.  Among other things we want the lawmakers
not to overlook how well some self-governing communities deal with the
challenges of today’s online world. More specifically, we call for strong
interoperability, portability and transparency requirements as well as
rules for very large and gatekeeping platforms. We would like the
prohibition on general monitoring to be strengthened and the main liability
protections of the E-Commerce Directive to remain in place (act upon
knowledge of illegal content, when no knowledge the service provider should
After dropping the Inception Impact Assessment for a new competition tool
in June, the European Commission polled stakeholders on experiences they
have with competition in different markets, asking a lot of questions about
the digital market and its actors. FKAGEU submitted an extensive response
explaining how we see the structural issues leading to a lack of
competition on the digital market (vertical integration of services and
supply chains, information asymmetry on the customer side, etc.) as well as
providing examples of market behaviour (extension of market power to
related markets, anti-competitive monopolisation, gatekeeping, etc.). We
supported the idea that a structural intervention is required and a new
competition tool that would address the structural issues and be horizontal
in scope should be created. You can check our response in detail[5a] and
follow a dedicated meta page[5b] for updates.
Ex-Ante Rules for Gatekeeper Platforms
Meanwhile it became clear that the European Commission is planning to
propose obligations for gatekeeper platforms in “key services” - social
networks, search engines, marketplaces (including app stores) and cloud
services. The legislative proposal will include a list of banned behaviour,
such as self-preferencing and a list of obligations, such as opening up the
platform to competitors. The details are still in the making. [5c]
Terrorist Content Regulation - TERREG
This zombie of the current legislative term has awoken and is looking for a
new brain. The first trilogue meeting after the pandemic break was a
warm up as it focused on issues that are not as divisive as the
corossborder removal orders and proactive filtering of terrorist content.
We are arming up for the next few weeks as the pressure to close the file
mounts and the fatigue of the participants grows. We wish there was more
attention in the Member States paid to the fact that potentially a foreign
government could order a removal of a content published by a citizen in a
different country and that filtering out political speech is impossible to
do right. Between the possible retightening of public health measures, a
looming crisis, and a rule of law debate it is perhaps a lot to ask for. In
any case, we are keeping you informed, and if you have an idea how to make
our fellow citizens care about this, please let us know.
The E-Evidence Regulation  aims to streamline the process of a
prosecutor or judge in one EU country asking for electronic evidence (i.e.
Facebook Messenger communications data) in another EU country. The way the
proposal is written it would make it easier for authorities to request and
gain access to data that shows which Wikipedia articles a user has opened.
We believe that this isn’t proportional and necessary and thus sent a
letter to the LIBE commitee’s rapporteur and shadow rapporteurs to ask them
to fix this aspect and keep the current, stronger requirements for access
to such information.
The Austrian Hate Speech Law is going into the next round of its genesis.
 Wikimedia Austria and epicenter.works had an open letter criticising
some parts of the proposal.  As a result, the government carved out
non-for profit services. The project still asks platforms to very quickly
and without prior checks to remove questionable content. A requirement that
lacks necessary safeguards against overblocking. We will stay engaged.
As the European Commission is trying to come up with guidelines for Member
States on how to implement Article 17 of the latest Copyright Directive,
stakeholder groups have circulated letters in support of (civil society
including Wikimedia and Communia , BEUC ) or criticising
(rightsholders ) the Commission’s initial stance. These include the
stance that Article 17 constitutes a “lex specialis” to the provisions of
the Information Society Directive which provides Member States with maximum
flexibility to include user rights preserving authorisation mechanisms in
their national legislation.
Public consultation on opportunities offered by digital technologies for
the culture heritage sector was a quick shot questionnaire by the
Commission  to see how to update its Recommendation on digitising and
preserving cultural heritage  - the one that helped us get a public
domain safeguard as part of the latest copyright reform. In our responses
we basically asked the Commission to fund Europeana and other digitisation
projects, to ensure laws allow for simple digitisation and online sharing
and to reach out to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU to
get to an agreement where all EU content can be public domain or freely
The Code of Practice of Practice on Disinformation, an effort Wikimedia was
part of in 2018, was evaluated.  The voluntary and oftentimes vague set
of guidelines, according to the European Commission, has encouraged
platforms to spend more resources and efforts to remove large chunks of
misinformation quickly. However, also according to the text, platforms
failed to become more accountable and transparent. The Commission is
considering hard legislation in the area of disinformation.
The European Commission publicly presented its proposal for a "Interim
Regulation on the processing of personal and other data for the purpose of
combatting child sexual abuse", which would derogate from the e-Privacy
directive for 5 years. It aims to make it easier for authorities to access
interpersonal communications from service providers for the processing of
personal and other data for the purpose of combatting child sexual abuse
online. We will follow this dossier with the help of EDRi. The proposal:
The European Commission is preparing to propose a Directive on Data
Governance in October and a Data Act in 2021. The main goals will be to
open public and business data up for other businesses and AI development.
Details are scarce, but include the creation of something called “data
spaces”, an unclear construct that might be something like a platform that
collects data in a specific sphere like medicine.
AI REPORTS: Members of the European Parliament’s JURI committee approved
three pending reports on artificial intelligence. The first one on ethics,
the second on civil liberties, and the third on intellectual property
rights.  The Commission is currently writing up its proposal for
legislation on this topic. Wikimedia has participated in the public
consultation. We are pushing for a “public money, public code” principle
and making sure no new IP rights are created on AI or using AI as an
excuse. We also would like a simple and straightforward liability regime
that doesn’t distinguish between different types of applications (i.e.
high-risk vs. non high risk). 
[A quick TL;DR, for those who have heard the news: Is this about
censorship? Or Taiwan? Maybe in the larger context, but the point at WIPO
isn't who agrees with whom on these issues, but why anyone should think
they matter for the purposes of admission. Confused by this? I'll try to
I wanted to update this list on something that happened in Geneva this
week. On Wednesday
delegation from China objected to the Wikimedia Foundation's application
for observer status
<https://www.wipo.int/about-wipo/en/observers/index.html> at the World
Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). (An eyewitness-level view from
our friends at KEI is here <https://www.keionline.org/33999>, press
coverage from Quartz here
and ZDNet France here
Because of this, WMF will not be able to attend as an observer NGO until
our application can be considered again next year.
This is highly unusual for WIPO, frustrating for us at WMF, and an
unnecessary barrier for our communities and movement. WIPO is where the
world's countries gather to write the treaties that shape the laws that
govern the world's knowledge. If you've ever complained about DRM laws
you can blame lobbying that took place at WIPO; if you're glad for
recent laws that make it easier for blind and visually impaired people to
access books <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marrakesh_VIP_Treaty>, you can
thank lobbying that took place at WIPO, too.
Those treaties are negotiated among country delegations that typically sit
in a big impressive room in Geneva. Meanwhile, hundreds of non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) representing publishers, broadcaster, record labels,
libraries, and civil society organizations sit at the back of the room,
observing the negotiations as they happen and, in between official
sessions, those groups hold side briefings, pass out position papers and
white papers, and try to make sure that the negotiators don't forget about
their particular interests.
We wanted to make sure that the Foundation could be a part of those
conversations, as a way to bring more members of the community to WIPO, and
make sure that our movement's interests don't get left behind. On
Wednesday, though, the delegation from China asked that the Wikimedia
Foundation's application be set aside from all of the others, vaguely
mentioning they had some questions about the application itself, but more
pointedly noting the existence of Wikimedia Taiwan. China is particularly
sensitive about Taiwan, and insists in many forums that people adhere to a
"one China" policy.
It's tempting here to discuss the merits of that kind of policy, or to
raise the issues of Chinese censorship or other human rights issues. But I
think that that's missing the point that's most relevant within WIPO--which
is whether we deserve a seat at the table. (The *observer's* table, even.)
The criteria for being an observer don't hinge on the geopolitical
positions the organizations take; a large number of the 193 member states
of WIPO have been roundly criticized by many of the civil society,
academic, and even industry groups that observe there. Observer groups have
their own opinions, and their members or associated allies do, too. Groups
representing actors or recording artists aren't barred from observer status
even when some of their members are explicitly vocal on geopolitical
issues. Nor is the existence of a Taiwan chapter some sort of outlier. Many
of the other observer organizations have members or businesses in Taiwan.
All of that is to say that it's disappointing that we'd be blocked for
reasons completely unrelated to our application, and for reasons that seem
plainly inconsistent with the standards by which other organizations have
been routinely admitted for years.
So what are we doing now? The Foundation has issued a press release
on the matter, and we've been seeing messages of support from other
globally-focused groups working on IP (Creative Commons
Alek Tarkowski <https://twitter.com/atarkowski/status/1309416601301598209> at
Centrum Cyfrowe, Sean Flynn
<https://twitter.com/Sean_Fiil_Flynn/status/1309126606196178945> at PIJIP,
and others, to start). Wikimedia Deutschland has its own statement
(Justus at WMDE has been tracking WIPO and was following this meeting
closely), and Wikimedia Taiwan covered the events in an update
<https://www.facebook.com/wikimedia.tw/posts/3193465514023069> on its
Facebook page. In the meantime, we're continuing to work on unblocking this
process for the next go-round next year.
Thanks everyone, and hope you're doing well.
Sherwin Siy (he/him)
Lead Public Policy Manager