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

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Image collage for the July–August 2023 issue of ‘Don’t Blink.’ Image by the 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 government 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), and/or sign up to our Wikimedia public policy mailing list or (NEW! COMING SOON!) quarterly newsletter.


Announcements from our team

NEW! COMING SOON! Getting ready to launch a quarterly newsletter about the Foundation’s public policy advocacy
[Subscribe to our newsletter so that you can be sure to receive the first issue, and keep up-to-date with our work over email]

In today’s age of disinformation and generative AI, the world needs Wikimedia’s free knowledge projects more than ever. To thrive economically, socially, and culturally—and to exercise all other fundamental human rights—people need well-sourced knowledge that is available in their own languages. The Wikimedia Foundation’s Global Advocacy team is collaborating with Wikimedians around the globe to educate policymakers about how they can protect Wikimedia’s model, platforms, and people. 

We are launching a new email newsletter that will serve as a bridge between active Wikimedians and policymakers, digital policy experts, journalists, and others who want to learn more about how government policies and laws that aim to address online threats can also protect and support everyone, everywhere, who wants to participate in the sum of all human knowledge.

‘Don’t Blink’ will continue to be published on Diff, bringing you the most important updates on matters that concern the Wikimedia communities. The quarterly newsletter will inform a broader public policy audience on the most important advocacy moments and issues that we have faced over the past three months. We will also forecast issues to look out for on the horizon, and preview upcoming events that our readers might want to attend and/or watch.

Sign up to our newsletter and stay on top of everything you need to help us protect the Wikimedia model, its people, and its values!

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

Legal battle in Portugal to defend Wikipedians’ ability to write biographies of living persons as well as their privacy
[Read our blog post on the ongoing lawsuit]

The Wikimedia Foundation is fighting an ongoing legal case in Portugal that raises serious concerns about privacy and free expression. An individual upset about the Portuguese and English language versions of the articles about him started the lawsuit. These articles contain information about his right-wing political affiliations and past criminal accusations, topics that had been reported in reliable sources as publicly relevant. We won the preliminary case, but it took a strange turn after a series of appeals: The appellate court demanded that the Foundation turn over the personal data of the volunteer editors who worked on the articles, without affording them—or the Foundation—the protections we would have expected under Portuguese law. We have not provided any data in this case, since we treat user data with a high degree of care and require that demands for data follow our procedures and guidelines for requesting nonpublic data. We are exploring legal options to oppose the court’s ruling, particularly because we consider the case to be a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP): a sort of lawsuit designed to exploit the law, and censor people who are providing information important and valuable to public discourse. Read our blog post for more information about the case, including why we believe Portuguese courts need to refer it to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

Requesting observer status at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
[Read the
press release on our latest request]

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the United Nations (UN) agency that determines global policies on copyright, patents, and trademarks. Wikimedia projects rely on open, flexible copyright policies to make sure that everyone, everywhere, can access and share free and open knowledge online. Since 2020, the Foundation and various Wikimedia affiliates have requested observer status at WIPO to contribute our expertise on copyright and knowledge-sharing in the public interest. On every occasion, China has vetoed the participation of the Foundation and affiliates. After having done outreach and engagement in the weeks leading up to the WIPO General Assembly in July this year, we once again sought permanent accreditation. However, China blocked us for a third time. Read our press release announcing the decision, and learn which countries supported our request as well as other details related to our request. We do not intend to give up. 

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

Participating in discussions to shape better internet regulation in Latin America and the Caribbean

The Center for the Study of Freedom of Expression and Access to Information (CELE in Spanish) at the University of Palermo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, held a workshop titled For a better Internet regulation in Latin America (Por una mejor regulación de Internet en América Latina in Spanish) during late July. The 11th edition of this workshop continues its efforts to discuss and reflect on the present and future of internet regulation—not only at the regional scale, but also at the global one—as well as the potential development of an agenda for the digital future. Amalia Toledo (Lead Public Policy Specialist for Latin America & the Caribbean) led a session on the Wikimedia Foundation’s conceptual framework for compliance with human rights responsibilities.

Amalia’s session had three objectives: 1) To strengthen our human rights due diligence framework with feedback from stakeholders outside of the Wikimedia movement; 2) to educate more stakeholders on the Wikimedia community-driven content governance and moderation model; and 3) to fulfill our obligation to consult with stakeholders who may be affected by our projects, services, and activities. Participants at the session included civil society representatives, university professors and researchers, and even the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Organization of American States (OAS)—an office established by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

ICYMI! Contributing to build “an open, free, and secure digital future for all” through the Global Digital Compact

[Read our blog post, explore our written contribution, and use Foundation and affiliate talking points to prepare your own]Wikimedians are increasingly interested in educating lawmakers about the Wikimedia model to advocate public policy 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. The UN system, member states of the UN, and all other interested stakeholders are developing it through consultations. The Foundation submitted a written contribution to the process in order to make sure that these deliberations consider the views of Wikimedia communities and others who care about free and open knowledge. With Wikimedia affiliates, we also participated in a series of consultations, both general and thematic, and collected our statements there to share them with those who are interested. Read our blog post and learn about our recommendations, included in our written contribution, on various policy topics essential for our movement. The post also explains how the Foundation and affiliate talking points can help other Wikimedians like you contribute to consultations about the Global Digital Compact within your own country and region.

Additional developments 

Working on public policy advocacy together at Wikimania 2023
[Explore our Advocacy workshop slide deck and notes and our “Writing a Policy Position Summary in 8 Easy Steps” how-to guide]

Members of the Global Advocacy team attended Wikimania 2023 in Singapore, the Wikimedia movement’s yearly conference organized by volunteers and supported by the Wikimedia Foundation. We participated in several sessions, which included: Evolving Legal and Human Rights Trends: A review of the risks and threats facing the movement; Passion and Perspectives: Policy Challenges and Opportunities for the Wikimedia Communities in the ESEAP; and, Open up! Stories and lessons from copyright advocacy across the Wikimedia movement.

We also hosted a “Zero Day” Advocacy workshop with 16 participants, conducted alongside Wikimedia Deutschland. Over the course of 4 hours leading up to Wikimania, we co-designed the event with the participants. We shared a short update of our public policy advocacy work and priorities, then ran a “fail-a-thon,” where everyone could bring challenges they have faced and how they learned from them going forward. The fail-a-thon was run by affiliates from Chile and South Africa, and explored the lessons they learned from facing various challenges related to public policy advocacy in their countries. We then moved on to a writing skills workshop, which featured a presentation on how to write a policy position summary in eight easy steps. Our intention was to engage with and learn from Wikimedians who have a common interests in advocating public policy that helps protect the projects and help them flourish, let them know that they are no working on these goals on their own, and that we can build a whole new network together of people on who they can call for support. That also means you!

You can download the slide deck and accompanying notes from the Advocacy Workshop from Wikimedia Commons, and also the Writing a Policy Position Summary in 8 Easy Steps how-to slide deck guide. These materials—and many others—are also available within the Resources section of our Meta-Wiki webpage.


Follow us on Twitter, visit our Meta-Wiki webpage, join our Wikipedia policy mailing list or sign up for our (NEW! COMING SOON!) quarterly newsletter to receive updates. We hope to see you there!

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