It’s rainy and it is a Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act frenzy. We are very close to seeing something materialise that almost never happens: the legislator sticking to its timeline. We will try to take aboard the policy whirl.


Anna & Dimi


This and previous reports on Meta-Wiki: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/EU_policy/Monitor


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Digital Services Act (DSA)

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Committee Opinions: As you might be aware, there are seven committees producing opinions for the DMA, which is a lot.[01] This mass activity does not always always help the parliament being taken seriously, but here we go.

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The Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) opinion [02] asks for a positive legal protection of anonymous and pseudonymous users, makes sure notices aren’t automatically considered actual knowledge of something illegal (important to Wikimedia) and proposes phasing out behavioural personalised targeting for advertising. The latter shall be impossible for political campaigns and permissible for commercial advertising only after a conscious opt-in by users (no “dark patterns”).   

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The Industry, Trade and Research Committee (ITRE) opinion also goes after limiting behavioural advertising in its final compromise amendments and also makes sure that notices aren’t automatically considered to be pointing to illegal content (which we asked for). [03] It furthermore wants to broaden the definition of Very Large Online Platforms (currently starting at above 45 million users in the EU) to also include platforms that play a  “role in facilitating public debate, economic transactions and the dissemination of information, opinions and ideas and in influencing how recipients obtain and communicate information online.” VLOPs will be designated by the commission and will have to comply with stricter transparency and reporting requirements.

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The Culture and Education Committee (CULT) opinion was passed on Monday. [04] It is a tale of more liability for online services and more rights for rights holders to demand content being taken and staying down. 

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The Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) opinion is to be voted in the coming days and in an odd situation. While the final compromise shared by rapporteur Geoffrey Didier (EPP FR) [05] do pick up our “notices aren’t always about illegal content” argument and offers some minor improvements as to how terms of services are to be enforced, it also seems to bring on mandatory upload and stay-down filters and mandatory removal of harmful but legal content. It seems like the EPP rapporteur is at odds with other centrist groups in the committee and the results of the vote are uncertain. 

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The lead committee, Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), discussed the act, the many opinions and thousands of tabled amendments on Monday. [06] This will be the decisive place the parliament position gets hammered out. While the rapporteur Ms. Schaldmeose’s (S&D DK) priority is marketplaces and physical goods, her colleagues are focusing on the same thorny issues as in other committees: Are notices always about illegal content? How to define VLOPs? Should behavioural advertising be limited? We expect MEPs to negotiate these questions in the coming two weeks and then try to find a voting majority on or after 8 November. 

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Council: The cacophony in the European Parliament is so loud, that not even the usually well informed and staffed Permanent Representations of large countries manage to follow all discussions. The Council compromises so far have been going alright, with the Member States already acknowledging that notices service providers get aren’t always about illegal content and that the providers need to have the opportunity to assess and decide. [07] 

On the other hand, quite a few Member States seem to support the idea that there should be fixed deadlines for deciding on whether to remove content, 24h and 48h, at least for VLOPs. This is an initiative by Germany and France and part of its future discussion depends on the new German government coalition. 

Another dividing line in the Council is whether the country of origin of the service will have authority to enforce the DSA or whether to give this authority also to targeted countries’ authorities. The latter is demanded by France, the former defended by Ireland, Sweden and the Czech republic. 

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Digital Markets Act

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Just before the summer recess MEPs at the IMCO Committee had submitted close to 1 200 amendments to the DMA that they looked into during a committee meeting on September 28. The amendments - or AMs, as we call them for shorts - go all over the place, ones suggesting expansion and others shrinking of the scope, quantitative thresholds and possibilities to wiggle out of the gatekeeper category and resulting obligations. Watch our blog for a comprehensive analysis coming out soon. 

For now we can tell you that Rapporteur Andreas Schwab (EPP, DE) is sticking to his guns[08] in the latest draft compromise: according to him the scope should be limited to the most popular services of the biggest platforms and there is no need for interoperability that users can meaningfully act on. Schade, Herr Schwab.

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E-Privacy

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In September we took a targetter interest in ePrivacy (that we otherwise follow through the work of European Digital Rights where we are a member). The proposal for ePrivacy regulation is ambiguous whether nonprofits will be able to contact members of our community / individual donors regarding supporting our organisation after we already did it. The draft makes it possible for a company to contact customers that already bought services or products from that company, to advertise similar offers without a new consent ensuring that they can opt out. [09]

Nonprofits do not seem to be explicitly included in that possibility and we want to make MEPs and member states aware that a clarification is needed. The time is right as the trilogues continue, so get in touch with us if you would like to join in the effort.  

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Austrian and Bulgarian Copyright Reform Consultation

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The Austrian and Bulgarian governments finally proposed their copyright reform packages and are asking for public feedback. The former until 13 October [10], the latter until 15 October. [11] The good news is that they both come with a public domain safeguard and decent user rights protections out of the box. If you speak the languages and are keen on contributing to our consultations, get in touch!

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wikimedia.brussels

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In September we are looking into AI tools and Wikipedia in a new series of posts:


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END

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[01]https://oeil.secure.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/ficheprocedure.do?reference=2020/0361(COD)&l=en

[02]https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/LIBE-AD-692898_EN.pdf

[03]https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Z90JigF2IwwJQ4mmrJNO_sBRpeFv32_n/view?usp=sharing

[04]https://www.europarl.europa.eu/cmsdata/239774/CULT%20Voting%20Session%2027%20September%202021%20(final%20votes).pdf?utm_source=POLITICO.EU&utm_campaign=1239edfc54-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2021_09_28_05_17&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_10959edeb5-1239edfc54-190511765

[05]https://drive.google.com/file/d/155MUMt6_JyvbCKdUgln0ezrthOaZnsa4/view?usp=sharing

[06]https://twitter.com/EP_SingleMarket/status/1442456997505343498

[07]https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FkmKRTTXVbjd6wNxifnoqn8tbYt3C6Jx/view?usp=sharing

[08] https://wikimedia.brussels/dma-imco-targets-gafam-and-forgets-interoperability/

[09]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPrivacy_Regulation

[10]https://www.parlament.gv.at/PAKT/VHG/XXVII/ME/ME_00143/index.shtml#tab-Uebersicht

[11]https://www.strategy.bg/PublicConsultations/View.aspx?lang=bg-BG&Id=6348