“Don’t Blink”: Protecting the Wikimedia model, its people, and its values in February 2024

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An image collages that features: Wikimedia Foundation staff and a volunteer holding signs in front of the US Supreme Court, screenshots of a lighting talk on AI and the arts and a panel discussion on deploying safe AI tools on digital platforms, and the facade of the US Supreme Court building.
Image collage for the February 2024 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 X (formerly Twitter) (@WikimediaPolicy), and sign up to our Wikimedia public policy mailing list or quarterly newsletter


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

Attending the US Supreme Court hearing on the NetChoice legal cases

Last month, Rebecca MacKinnon (Vice President, Global Advocacy), Stan Adams (Lead Policy Specialist for North America) and local Wikipedia volunteers went to the US Supreme Court to call attention to two legal cases: NetChoice, LLC v. Paxton and Moody v. NetChoice, LLC.

The Supreme Court held a hearing to consider the constitutionality of laws passed by Texas and Florida in 2022. The Court is presently deciding whether the laws in question infringe on First Amendment rights by prohibiting website operators from banning users or removing content based on the political viewpoints of these users—in other words, by compelling website operators to host online speech and content.

The Foundation has called on the Court to strike the laws because the limitations that they establish on content moderation threaten Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects as well as the broader internet. In the case of the Wikimedia communities, they threaten the right of volunteer editors to set and enforce editorial standards on Wikipedia. Without these standards, the online encyclopedia could be overwhelmed with opinions, irrelevant information, and even conspiracy theories, making it less useful for billions of readers around the world.

In advance of the hearing, the Foundation partnered with the Internet Society—a nonprofit organization that promotes the open development, evolution, and use of the internet to benefit people across the world—to hold a virtual press briefing. After attending the hearing and listening to the oral arguments, the Foundation spoke with news media organizations to explain our concerns about the impact that these laws can have on free and open knowledge. These concerns were covered by some high-profile news media organizations, raising awareness of the problematic impacts of laws like those in Texas and Florida.

Wikimedia Australia and the Foundation submission on amendments to Basic Online Safety Expectations (BOSE)
[Read our shared public comments on the BOSE]

The Basic Online Safety Expectations (BOSE) sets the government’s safety expectations of online service providers for protecting their users in Australia. In late 2022, the Australian government requested public comments on the BOSE. The Foundation submitted a comment and wrote about it in a blog post back then. During November 2023, the Government of Australia published amendments to the BOSE, and requested public comments by February 2024.

Wikimedia Australia and the Foundation worked together this time to prepare a joint submission where we explained our recommendations that the bill should do more to: 1) protect public interest projects; 2) ensure that privacy and anonymity continue to be cornerstones of a vibrant internet; 3) safeguard decentralized and community-led content moderation; and, 4) protect child rights through preserving already effective community participation and internal platform mechanisms.

You can read our shared public comments on Wikimedia Commons.

Op-Ed with Internet Society on the US digital trade and internet fragmentation for Project Syndicate
[Read our co-authored article]

Last month, the Foundation and the Internet Society partnered to call attention to the serious consequences that recent and unexpected changes to US digital trade policy could have for the open internet and all of the knowledge sharing, global collaboration, and cross-border trade and commerce that it enables.

Stan Adams co-authored an opinion article with Natalie Campbell (Senior Director, North American Government and Regulatory Affairs, Internet Society), which was published in Project Syndicate—an international news media organization that publishes and syndicates articles that analyze and comment on global topics. In the article, Natalie and Stan explained that the survival of the internet as we know it today is far from guaranteed, especially after the US abandoned its longstanding opposition to digital protectionism. They warned that only a concerted global effort can ensure that the internet is not increasingly fragmented, insecure, and controlled by governments and corporations.

The opinion article was also syndicated to 18 other news media organizations in 14 countries and published in 5 languages. Please read our co-authored article and learn more. 

Attending the Bangkok Future Forum and Asia Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development

The Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development is an annual, inclusive intergovernmental forum to support follow-up and review of progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs) at the regional level. Latest month, Rachel Arinii Judhistari (Lead Public Policy Specialist for Asia) participated at the Bangkok Future Forum, a side event of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development.

Rachel spoke in two sessions about the regional process to shape priority issues for Asian countries and civil society organizations in relation to the Summit of the Future, including the Global Digital Compact. Rachel shared the importance of promoting and protecting public interest platforms, human rights online, and the participation of online communities in shaping knowledge on the internet. She also explained our previous Global Digital Compact submissions and how their recommendations serve to advance the interest of the Wikimedia communities and our shared mission to empower people across the world to participate in free and open knowledge.

Discussing the DSA at a conference in Amsterdam

On 17 February, 2024, the Digital Services Act (DSA) became fully applicable in Europe. The DSA Observatory, together with the Institute for Information Law (IViR), marked this occasion with a two-day conference on “The DSA and Platform Regulation” at the Amsterdam Law School held on 15-16 February. The purpose of the conference was to discuss how the DSA can make a meaningful contribution to platform regulation. Jan Gerlach (Public Policy Director) joined a panel with policy experts on “EU-level implementation and enforcement of the DSA,” and explained the challenges of DSA compliance for the Wikimedia Foundation and how European regulators can protect Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects.

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

Talking about AI tools development as well as impact of AI on art at the State of the Net Conference 2024
[Watch our lighting talk and our participation at a panel discussion]

On 12 February, the 20th annual State of the Net (SOTN) was held. The largest internet policy conference in the US, those attending came from civil society, nonprofit organizations, government bodies, research institutions, and the business community. Foundation staff members attended to engage stakeholders on issues such as Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Aishwarya Vardhana (Senior UX Designer, Moderator Tools) gave a lighting talk about best practices for implementing a community-driven and transparent process for developing and deploying AI and machine learning (ML) systems on the Wikimedia projects. Aishwarya explained the Foundation’s product design perspective, which emphasizes safety by design, ethical considerations, and transparency by involving Wikimedians in the process so that challenges can be faced together.

Stan Adams (Lead Policy Specialist for North America) participated in a panel titled “Redefining Creativity in the Digital Age.” Stan emphasized the importance of human-created works in times where artists are grappling with the impact of Large Language Models (LLMs) and generative AI tools on their creations and livelihoods. He also shared thoughts on the policy implications of these emerging technologies.

For more details, watch the recordings of Aishwarya’s lighting talk and Stan’s panel discussion.  

Protecting Wikimedia’s people
(Work related to privacy and countering surveillance)

Attending the Second EU-LAC Digital Alliance Policy Dialogue and discussing cybersecurity

The European Union (EU)-Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) Digital Alliance is a strategic framework to foster cooperation between those two regions on digital and outer space issues. In December 2023, Amalia Toledo (Lead Public Policy Specialist for Latin America and the Caribbean) attended discussions to represent and amplify the voices of the Wikimedia Foundation and communities when the EU-LAC Digital Alliance Digital requested input ahead of policy dialogues to be held this year.

Amalia then participated in the first of these policy dialogues, which focused on cybersecurity and was held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Along with other civil society organizations (CSOs), Amalia had the opportunity to highlight that human rights should be at the center of these discussions. She also drew attention to the broad experience that civil society has with cybersecurity and how it constitutes a valuable resource.

The next dialogue will be held in Montevideo, Uruguay, and is a part of the Preparatory Meeting for the Ninth Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Ministerial Conference on the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean, which will start the review of the digital agenda to guide digital policy priorities in the region until 2026—and is expected to be approved in November 2024.


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

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