Guess what! Elections are in four months, which gives everyone less than
three months to wrap up the files they have been working on for years.
Copyright, terrorist content, privacy open data, disinformation -
everything's hot and everything's messy. So much so that Brexit becomes a
side-issue with Germany’s FM using the wrong flag emoji
for Ireland getting plenty attention. But back to our issues:
Copyright Reform - It's Stalling, But Is It Stumbling?: With time running
out and after the Parliament negotiators and the Romanian Presidency seemed
have agreed on workable compromises, there was a realistic expectation that
we might have final deal last week. But alas, a whopping 11 Member States
it. And while seeing such a solid blocking minority supported by large
countries like Germany, Italy and Poland gives hope, we shouldn’t think
Copyright Reform - Macron Calls Merkel: A Council majority now basically
depends on on Germany giving up opposition. And Germany’s red line is that
small and medium sized platforms must be carved out of the new liability
rules (Article 13). Something France vehemently opposes. If the two
countries agree on this issue, we’re likely to see a reform. This is highly
political, which is why Merkel received a phone call from Macron
<https://twitter.com/fandoetlis/status/1090710347516989440> yesterday. We
don’t know yet how it played out.
TERREG - Fixing anti-terrorist measures: There is a proposal to lay out new
rules on how platforms have to deal with terrorist content
online. Wikimedia cares because:
a) We fall fully under the scope.
b) The proposal contains measures leading to automatic content filtering.
c) Referrals are broad and would allow government agencies to demand
removal of legal content with insufficient judicial oversight.
We are now working with the parliamentary committees to propose
improvements, such as better definition of targeted content, redress
mechanisms, transparency rules and more precisely defined scope. We expect
committee votes to take place throughout February and March, but would be
surprised to see this regulation adopted by this legislature.
More Open Data - A Quick & Dirty Reform: Now this was quick! A trilogue
deal on the Directive formerly known as the “Public Sector Information
Directive” was reached last week
<http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-19-525_en.htm>. Henceforth it
shall be known as the “Directive on Open Data and Public Sector
Information”. Bottom line, it is a good step forward in this field. There
situations in in which public bodies can restrict re-use of and charge for
access to data have been further limited. A number of “high value datasets”
will be opened up across the EU, such as company registers, transport and
geospatial data. For these, APIs must be provided. The Commission might
edit the list of such "high value datasets" without new reform. It will set
up a working group.
Disinformation - Commission Rattles Sabre: The major commercial online
platforms signed on to a Code of Practice
by which they vowed to take measures against disinformation ahead of the
European Parliament elections in May. They were partially motivated to sign
up to this by the Commission's threat to regulate if they don't. A
of measures taken
is out and unsurprisingly the EU wants more. But as there is virtually no
time left to regulate before the elections, the main coercion instrument is
gone. It will be interesting to observe how the measures play out in
practice over the next few months. On a somewhat related note, discussions
within the Bulgarian Wikimedia Community to close down Bulgarian Wikinews
are ongoing. Part of the reason is that it has been misused for the spread
of disinformation in the past.
In the neighbourhood - Serbia Looks to Brussels for Copyright: The Serbian
government is looking into updating their copyright rules and is looking to
Brussels for inspiration. The OSCE organised an event at which yours truly
and the President of the European Federation of Journalists argued next to
Serbian government representatives
about the related right for press publishers. Still at working group stage,
so no decisions have been taken yet.
Big Fat Brussels Meeting - Date Is Set: We are ready to call it! The dates
of this year’s Big Fat Brussels Meeting will be 1-2 June. Sorry to the ones
who can't, but the mighty dudle has spoken
<https://dudle.inf.tu-dresden.de/BFBM19/>. This will be exactly one week
after the EP elections, so we will focus on making outreach plans targeted
at the newly elected. More details soon.
This and previous reports on Meta: