“Don’t Blink”: Protecting the Wikimedia model, its people, and its values in June 2023

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A collage of photographs, which features: The Supreme Federal Court building, lit in blue at night, in Brasilia, Brazil; panelists speaking at a Wikimedia Deutschland networking event on Wikipedia designation as a Very Large Online Platform (VLOP); the Palace of Westminster at night seen from the south bank of the River Thames; the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike badge; and, the cover image of the Wikimedia Foundation contribution to the Global Digital Compact
Image credits (clockwise, starting from upper left): Supreme Federal Court building, lit in blue at night, in Brasilia, Brazil. Image by Dasfour2022, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons; panelists speak at Wikimedia Deutschland networking event on Wikipedia designation as a Very Large Online Platform (VLOP). Wikimedia Deutschland, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Deutschland; the Palace of Westminster at night seen from the south bank of the River Thames. Image by Jim Trodel (Trodel), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr; the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike badge. Image by Creative Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Creative Commons; cover image of Wikimedia Foundation contribution to the Global Digital Compact. Image by Wikimedia Foundation, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Welcome to “Don’t Blink”! 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 last month, here are the most important public policy advocacy topics that have kept the Wikimedia Foundation busy.

The Global Advocacy team works to advocate laws and policies that protect the volunteer community-led Wikimedia model, Wikimedia’s people, and the Wikimedia movement’s core values. To learn more about us and the work we do with the rest of the Foundation, visit our Meta-Wiki webpage, follow us on Twitter (@WikimediaPolicy), or sign up to our Wikimedia public policy mailing list.


Protecting the Wikimedia model
(Work related to access to knowledge and freedom of expression)

Protecting the future of Wikipedia in the UK
[Read our open letter with Wikimedia UK and sign it!]

During the past months, the UK Government has discussed and amended its draft Online Safety Bill. We have previously shared our concerns about the draft bill, and noted with Wikimedia UK how its good intentions might unfortunately have bad effects. Together we concluded that the best chance of protecting Wikipedia is calling on the UK Government to exempt Wikipedia and other public interest projects from the Online Safety Bill. We wrote an open letter, which has received support from two dozen scientific, cultural, and historical organizations, peers from major political parties in the UK, and almost 800 members of the public. Read our open letter, and please sign it to help protect free knowledge and make it flourish in the UK and elsewhere!

Brazilian court case and draft bill could change legal protections for online platforms—and impact the Wikimedia model
[Read our blog post]

Online platforms require legal frameworks and provisions to protect them from legal risks related to user-generated content. Without these safeguards, platforms would have to centralize decisions on content creation and moderation. These protections are crucial for Wikimedia projects, which use a decentralized volunteer community-led governance model. In Brazil, a legal case at the Supreme Federal Court, and a draft bill moving through the National Congress, could seriously change internet platforms’ legal liability protections. For that reason, as a “friend-of-the-court,” we are explaining that  a “one-size-fits-all” approach could negatively impact volunteer-led content governance models like ours, which are very different from those of social media corporations. Together with Wiki Movimento Brazil, we are also monitoring the public and legislative discussions on the proposed bill. Read our blog post for more details.

Stepping into the future of Creative Commons licenses
[Read our blog post and find out how you can help!]

In late June and as part of its update of the Terms of Use (ToS) for the Wikimedia projects, the Foundation announced an update to their Creative Commons license. These licenses are a key legal tool enabling everyone to contribute free and open knowledge across the projects. Updating the content of the projects to Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 (CC BY-SA 4.0) serves the Wikimedia community in several important ways: a large area of new material for the projects is available; there is no need for translations of licenses, making global collaboration easier; requirements for attribution become streamlined; and, the text of the Creative Commons license is more readable and easier to understand. Read our blog post for details about this new chapter in more modern, flexible, and easy-to-use licensing of free and open knowledge and how you—as a Wikimedian—can help us update the licenses of content on the projects!

Discussing legal protections for online platforms in Washington, DC
[Watch a
video of an event we cohosted]

The Foundation supported two events in Washington, DC, United States, to educate the public about the importance of Section 230. This part of the 1996 Communications Decency Act is a key aspect of the legal protections for online platforms in the US. Rebecca MacKinnon (Vice President of Global Advocacy) attended and spoke at both. On 1 June, we cohosted an event with the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) to support US congressional staff in making thoughtful and informed decisions regarding Section 230. Later in the month and together with New America’s Open Technology Institute, we cohosted a hybrid event titled Section 230 and the Public Interest: Proceed with Caution. The event, which was broadcast live on C-SPAN, the public service TV channel, focused on how Section 230 benefits nonprofit public interest organizations like libraries, digital archives, open data projects, and the Wikimedia projects. To our delight, the keynote speaker, US Senator Ron Wyden (one of the original coauthors of Section 230), said that when he wants to explain the section’s value to people, he uses the Wikimedia movement as an example! Watch the video of this event to learn more.

Protecting Wikimedia’s values
(Work related to human rights and countering disinformation)

Discussing online platforms, gender, and human rights in Geneva

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is the UN body that promotes and protects human rights worldwide. In June–July, the UNHRC held its 53rd session in Geneva, Switzerland. Amalia Toledo (Public Policy Specialist for Latin America and the Caribbean)  was invited to speak at a side event that discussed two questions: How can governments incentivize the technology sector to implement the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in their value chains? What  are the best human rights due diligence practices for such corporations? Amaila shared the panel with the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, KICTANet, and Microsoft. The panel also provided an opportunity to discuss the way in which these practices approach and act upon the gender dimensions of human rights, and to explain the Wikimedia model as well as how the Foundation protects the human rights of its users—Wikimedians and readers alike.

Additional developments 

Meeting and working with Wikimedia affiliates in Europe

Rebecca MacKinnon and Jan Gerlach (Director of Public Policy at the Foundation) met with various Wikimedia affiliates in Europe. On 9–10 June, they attended the General Assembly of Wikimedia Europe in Prague, Czechia, an opportunity to celebrate the organization’s official creation. The main meeting had sessions that revolved around: Wikimedia Europe’s plan and priorities; the Wikimedia movement decision-making, capacity building, and fundraising; as well as how the Foundation and affiliates collaborate and share resources across the movement to carry out public policy advocacy work in Europe. Dimi Dimitrov (Policy Director at Wikimedia Europe) and Jan led a discussion on that work. Rebecca participated in a workshop led by two Wikimedia Deutschland members about decision making in the Wikimedia movement.

On 13 June in Berlin, Germany, Rebecca spoke at a networking event co-organized by Wikimedia Europe and Wikimedia Deutschland, where she discussed Wikipedia’s status as a Very Large Online Platform under the EU Digital Services Act with Dr. Armin Jungbluth (Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure of Germany) and Dr. Julian Jaursch (Stiftung Neue Verantwortung). Over 30 individuals representing different civil society organizations that are interested in different aspects of the DSA attended and participated in the discussion, which was moderated by Anna Mazgal (Executive Director of Wikimedia Europe).

Announcements from our team

Contributing to build “an open, free, and secure digital for all” through the Global Digital Compact
our blog post, explore our written contribution, and use Foundation and affiliate talking points to prepare your own]

Wikimedians are increasingly interested in advocating public policy that educates lawmakers about the Wikimedia model and laws that can help protect it. The Global Digital Compact is a series of shared principles to establish an international framework for our digital future. It is being developed through consultations with the UN system, member states of the UN, and all other interested stakeholders. The Foundation submitted a written contribution to the process. We wanted to make sure the views of Wikimedia communities and others who care about free and open knowledge are considered in these deliberations. Along with Wikimedia affiliates we also participated in a series of consultations on the Global Digital Compact and some of its themes. We have collected our statements to share them with those who are interested. Read our blog post, which explains the recommendations on various policy topics, essential for our movement, that are included in our written contribution. The post also explains how the Foundation and affiliate talking points can help you prepare your own, so that you can contribute to consultations within your own country and region about the Global Digital Compact.


Follow us on Twitter, visit our Meta-Wiki webpage, or join our Wikipedia policy mailing list for updates. We hope to see you there!

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