Don’t Blink: Public Policy Snapshot for May 2022

Welcome to the “Don’t Blink” series! Every month we compile developments from around the world that shape people’s ability to participate in the free knowledge movement. In case you blinked this month, here are the most important topics that have kept the Wikimedia Foundation’s Global Advocacy and Public Policy team busy in May.

To learn more about our team and the work we do, join our first-ever monthly conversation hour, follow us on Twitter (@WikimediaPolicy), sign up to our Wikimedia public policy mailing list, or visit our Meta-Wiki page.


Latin America and the Caribbean

  • World Press Freedom Day event in Uruguay: On 1 May, the Wikimedia Foundation sponsored and co-hosted an event to mark World Press Freedom Day with the Observatorio Latinoamericano de Regulación, Medios y Convergencia (OBSERVACOM). The session, titled More Transparency in Content Moderation: How Do We Achieve It?, explored transparency and accountability around online platforms’ content moderation practices. Amalia Toledo (Lead Public Policy Specialist for Latin America & the Caribbean) and Ricky Gaines (Senior Human Rights Advocacy Manager) participated in the event, which aimed to enhance debate around these issues in Latin America, so that civil society groups and their allies can better anticipate and respond to legislative proposals in the region that would threaten online communities and human rights on the internet. You can read our full recap of the event.

Asia

  • C20 global civil society forum: Rachel Arinii Judhistari (Lead Public Policy Specialist for Asia) represented the Foundation at the C20, the global civil society forum that runs parallel to the Group of 20 (G20) forum. As we wrote previously, the process convened civil society organizations from around the world to discuss issues related to digital transformation and inequities, among other topics. The Foundation is participating in the Working Group on Digitalization, Education, and Global Citizenship, and is contributing to a civil society policy brief that will shape G20 summit outcome documents on issues relating to free knowledge and internet regulation. 
  • Read our deep dive on the Australian Basic Online Safety Expectations (BOSE): Earlier this year, we published a blog post on the common pitfalls of online safety regulations. Aspects of these bills may threaten open knowledge communities and individuals’ fundamental and human rights to privacy, freedom of expression, and access to knowledge. We have now published a deep dive on the Australian government’s approach to online safety. The BOSE contain overly prescriptive content identification, removal, and enforcement expectations, as well as threats to encryption and privacy practices that could disproportionately expose historically underserved groups to online harm. 
  • Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting on human rights: On 18 May, Rachel Arinii Judhistari represented the Foundation at a meeting with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) Representative from Thailand. The topics discussed included online disinformation, harmful business models of social media platforms, and others. The Thai Representative will aim to organize a regional dialogue on digital rights this year, and we are looking forward to contributing the perspective of the open knowledge movement.

United States

  • Texas social media law: The US Supreme Court has blocked, at least for now, a Texas state law that would harm the free exchange of knowledge around the world, and threaten the legal protections that enable the community editing model of Wikimedia projects. We signed onto an amicus brief in the case a week prior to this decision, which was made on 31 May. Our brief asked the US Supreme Court to stop the law from going into effect and presented the harmful impacts of this law to free speech online. We signed the brief alongside allies at the Center for Democracy and Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and others.
  • Declaration for the Future of the Internet: Since our last update for April, more than 60 countries issued a Declaration for the Future of the Internet. We strongly support the principles in the declaration, which advance free expression and the exchange of free knowledge, and have explained that we intend to hold signatories to their commitments to support a free, open, interoperable, and accessible Internet.
  • Comments to US Copyright Office’s public inquiry: We filed comments to the United States (US) Copyright Office in its inquiry into standard technical measures (STMs) under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). STMs are technical tools meant to assist in identifying copyrighted works on online platforms. In our comments, we explained why STMs must be open source, that costs to free expression and privacy must be considered when identifying STMs, and our concerns that forcing platforms to use inappropriate STMs could interfere with the exchange of free knowledge and, specifically, with Wikimedia projects’ effective copyright enforcement system.

Additional Developments

  • United Kingdom (UK) government to protect internet access in Russia: The UK government has made a major decision to protect access to the free and open internet within Russia. On 30 May, the UK government exempted transactions that enable civilian telecommunications and news media services from sanctions against Russia. The decision comes off the heels of an open letter that we signed alongside allies like AccessNow, Article 19, Open Rights Group, among others, urging the UK government to protect access to the global, open internet for the Russian people. This access is essential as it enables consulting reliable information and prevents further isolation of those who speak for human rights and against war within the country. Our request to the UK government mirrors a similar initiative that we pursued in the context of US sanctions: in response to our advocacy efforts, President Biden authorized US internet companies to continue providing essential internet services within Russia. Kate Ruane (Lead Policy Specialist for US), led both of these efforts.
  • World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO): On 9 May, six Wikimedia chapters—France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Sweden and Switzerland—were rejected from gaining accreditation to the WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), the body responsible for shaping the future of global copyright policy. China was the only country to oppose the accreditation of the Wikimedia chapters, inaccurately claiming that chapters were complicit in spreading disinformation. China has also objected to the application of the Wikimedia Foundation for observer status twice, first in 2020 and again in 2021. 

Announcements from our Team

  • Launch of monthly conversation hours: In June, our team is launching our monthly conversation hours. We want to create a dedicated space to engage directly with Wikimedia volunteers, affiliates, and Foundation staff. This forum offers you an opportunity to ask questions about our work, to share information about your own projects and initiatives, and to connect and learn from each other. Come and talk with us! All details, links, and dates are on our Meta page.
  • Human Rights Policy community conversations and survey: Our team has finished the first phase of Community Conversations on the Foundation’s Human Rights Policy. These events provided spaces for volunteers, Foundation staff, and contractors to ask questions about the policy, to share their own experiences, and to offer ideas and recommendations for its implementation. If you were unable to participate or wanted to share more about your experiences, please consider filling out our anonymous survey. This survey is currently being translated into multiple languages, but is already available in English. It will be conducted via a third-party service, LimeSurvey, which may subject it to additional terms. For more information on privacy and data-handling, see the survey’s privacy statement. The survey will remain open through 30 June 2022.