For nearly two decades, the Wikimedia Foundation has supported free access to the sum of all knowledge.
This ambitious goal would not be possible without the Wikimedia community—thousands of volunteer editors, admins, and functionaries of the Wikimedia projects who not only contribute content, but monitor for harmful material, stop the spread of misinformation, and create policies that determine what content belongs on the projects.
Since the projects are open, collaborative and driven by volunteer efforts, those volunteer editors are best able to respond to requests to change, update, or delete content from our projects. These requests come from governments and private parties, and sometimes also include attempts to obtain nonpublic user information. The Foundation evaluates all requests with an eye towards protecting privacy and freedom of expression. We support the Wikimedia communities’ prerogative to determine what educational content belongs on the projects.
Twice a year, we publish a transparency report outlining the number of requests we received, their types, countries of origin, and other information. The report also features an FAQ and stories about interesting and unusual cases.
Here are a few highlights from the report:
Content alteration and takedown requests. From July to December of 2022, we received 282 requests to alter or remove project content. 13 of these requests were Right to Erasure-based requests related to user accounts. When we receive such a request, we provide the user information on the community-driven vanishing process.
Copyright takedown requests. The Wikimedia communities work diligently to ensure that copyrighted material is not uploaded to the projects without an appropriate free license or exception, such as fair use. Most Wikimedia project content is therefore freely licensed or in the public domain. When we occasionally receive Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices asking us to remove allegedly infringing material, we conduct thorough investigations to make sure the claims are valid. From July to December of 2022, we received 26 DMCA requests, and granted only one. This low number is due to the hard work of community volunteers who ensure that content on the projects is properly licensed.
Requests for user data. The Wikimedia Foundation only grants requests for user data that comply with our requests for user information procedures and guidelines (which includes a provision for emergency conditions). Moreover, the Foundation collects very little nonpublic user information as part of our commitment to user privacy. Any information we do collect is retained for a short amount of time. Of the 29 user data requests we received, zero resulted in disclosure of nonpublic user information.
The Wikimedia Foundation’s biannual transparency report reaffirms our organization’s commitment to transparency, privacy, and freedom of expression. It also reflects the diligent work of the Wikimedia community members who shape the projects. We invite you to learn more about requests we received in the past six months in our comprehensive transparency report. For information about past reports, please see our previous blog posts.
Ellen Magallanes, Senior Counsel
The transparency report would not be possible without the contributions of Raji Gururaj, Julianne Alberto, Jim Buatti, Leighanna Mixter, and Aeryn Palmer.
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