Welcome to the “Don’t Blink” series! Every month we share 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 team busy.
To learn more about our team and the work we do, join one of our monthly conversation hours, follow us on Twitter (@WikimediaPolicy), sign up to our Wikimedia public policy mailing list, or visit our Meta-Wiki page.
Sessions at WikiIndaba: On 4 and 5 November, Ziski Putz (Movement Advocacy Manager) co-hosted two sessions at WikiIndaba in Kigali, Rwanda: (1) Public Policy Advocacy Round Table, and (2) How to Start an Advocacy Campaign: Issue Prioritisation and Building Alliances. Both sessions were co-created and co-hosted with Douglas Scott from Wikimedia South Africa.
Asia and Australia
East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific (ESEAP) Conference: From 18–21 November, Rachel Judhistari (Lead Public Policy Specialist for Asia) participated in the ESEAP community conference to present policy trends and our global advocacy framework in the plenary session. The event brought together more than 70 Wikimedians from various countries. The session sparked discussion on matters such as privacy, surveillance, and copyright issues in the region.
G20 Leaders’ Declaration: The Global Advocacy team was pleased to see privacy protections mentioned in the G20 leaders’ statement at this year’s annual summit. The summit was the culmination of a year-long process, in which our team engaged through the Civil Society (C20) work stream to promote access to free knowledge, which was even elevated to a key thematic priority in the C20 statement to G20.
United Kingdom Online Safety Bill (OSB): Our Legal Affairs and Global Advocacy teams published our deep dive into the UK OSB that is now before the House of Commons again. We warn that unless the bill is revised further, it will harm Wikipedia and other open knowledge projects: it threatens our community-driven content moderation processes, the privacy of our readers and editors, and freedom of opinion and expression within the UK—and elsewhere—more widely.
Paris Peace Forum: On 11 and 12 November, the Global Advocacy and Communications teams participated in the Paris Peace Forum, a high-level meeting of decision-makers from government, business, and civil society seeking to tackle societal challenges. At the Forum, Rebecca MacKinnon (Vice President) and Jan Gerlach (Director of Public Policy) spoke about the importance of protecting Wikipedia in times of regulatory pressure on internet platforms, and Rebecca moderated a panel on freedom of speech in the digital age. Overall, there was a lot of interest in learning more about Wikipedia’s model for content moderation and community-governance, by governments and other stakeholders.
US-German Futures Forum: On 2 and 3 November, Rebecca joined Nicole Ebber (Director of Movement Strategy and Global Relations at Wikimedia Deutschland) in participating in the first US-German Futures Forum in Münster, Germany. At the event, which was themed “The Future of Democracy in a Digital World” and focused on building stronger transatlantic relationships, Rebecca and Nicole advocated for a strong role of free knowledge on the internet and society.
Latin America and the Caribbean
Presentation to Colombian Supreme Court: On 15 November, Amalia Toledo (Lead Public Policy Specialist for Latin America and the Caribbean) participated in a Colombian Constitutional Court session on the right to freedom of expression in social media. In the intervention, Amalia highlighted that protecting free speech ensures that free and open knowledge is available online regardless of national borders.
UNESCO Consultation and Submission: On 15 November, Amalia participated in a consultation on the draft of a model regulatory framework for platforms proposed by UNESCO. The consultation took place in Bogotá, Colombia. At the end of November, the Global Advocacy and Legal Affairs teams submitted comments on the regulatory framework, sharing our analyses, which explain that protecting Wikimedia’s operating model is a way to empower users and foster a digital ecosystem that is more supportive of human rights, incl. the right to receive information (e.g., from Wikipedia).
Blog Post Explaining Comments Filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Commercial Surveillance and Data Security Rulemaking: Our Global Advocacy and Legal Affairs teams published a blog post summarizing our recent comments to the FTC on rules that could govern the collection and use of personal information for commercial use by companies within the US. The post highlights five key practices for privacy that the Foundation subscribes to: data minimization; transparency; short data retention periods; support for community-driven platforms; and, protection of human rights. We recommend that the FTC translates those practices into a commercial context as well.
Comments to Privacy Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) in 702 Oversight Process: In anticipation of the expiration of a crucial law on which the US Government bases parts of its surveillance of the communication of foreign nationals (Section 702 of the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)), the PCLOB announced that it is reexamining the surveillance programs operated under the law, and will produce an updated report with recommendations for Congress and the executive branch to make changes to Section 702 the surveillance programs it authorizes. The Foundation filed comments in response, urging the PCLOB to—among other things—inquire as to whether surveillance programs conducted under Section 702 had ever undergone a human rights impact assessment, and recommending that a human rights impact assessment for those surveillance programs be conducted.
Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) Coalition Letter: The Wikimedia Foundation joined over 90 other organizations in United States civil society in a letter to the U.S. Congress opposing the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA). The organizations stressed that we share the goal of protecting children online and noted that KOSA would undermine that shared goal in many ways, including by incentivizing practices like age-gating, which can prevent access to legal and valuable speech, such as the speech of people in the LGBTQ+ community, educational content, and health-related information. We urged Congress not to pass KOSA and to work with us to enact effective protections for children online.
Sessions at WikiConference North America: The Global Advocacy team hosted two sessions at WikiConference North America (11–13 November) related to our advocacy efforts against government mass-surveillance in the USA. Kate Ruane (Lead Public Policy Specialist for the United States) moderated a panel with our partners from the Knight Foundation and ACLU about our lawsuit against the National Security Agency: “Wikimedia sued the National Security Agency for mass surveillance. Now what?”. Ziski Putz’s session complimented Kate’s in-depth review of the lawsuit: “Reclaiming the right to privacy with grassroots tactics.” This panel discussion featured the voices of activists who have worked on grassroots efforts in the USA on diverse topics and covered what grassroots campaigns can look like and how effective they can be.
Announcements from our Team
Submit a Session to RightsCon’23: The call for proposals is now open; the deadline is 12 January 2023 at 23:59 PST. This global conference, hosted by Access Now, brings together people from around the world to discuss human rights in the digital age. Anyone can submit a session, register, and attend online for free. Last year’s event featured ten sessions where Wikipedians were hosts and/or participants. You can read about their experiences and reasons for representing the Wikimedia movement at RightsCon. Don’t wait: read our tips on submitting your session, and do so now!
ICYMI—Meet the Wikimedia Foundation Global Advocacy Team: Ziski published a Diff blog post at the end of October, introducing the Global Advocacy team and its members. The post outlines the team’s role within the Foundation, in the broader Wikimedia movement, and in championing and advancing free knowledge around the world.
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