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).