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

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A collage of images and a screenshot: a photograph of the Cruz del Tercer Milenio monument in Coquimbo, Chile; a screenshot of a workshop on editing Wikipedia; and, a promotional image for a panel discussion titled "Digital public infrastructure: A tool for gender equality?" hosted by Access Now and the Wikimedia Foundation
Image collage for the March 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)

Submitting comments on AI on the topics of global development, international governance, and the benefits and risks of open models
[Read our submissions to USAID, to the UN AI Advisory Board, and to the NTIA]

The Wikimedia Foundation and the global volunteer communities have over two decades of experience with developing and implementing machine learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to benefit the Wikimedia projects and the public interest. Drawing on this experience, during these past months we have submitted public comments to various requests for feedback from US and United Nations (UN) bodies that are interested in the benefits and challenges of these technologies.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which provides foreign aid and global development assistance, requested comments as part of its obligations under US AI Executive Order (EO) 14110. We offered comments in order to help inform USAID’s decisions about how, where, and which AI-related projects to fund abroad, including those that can benefit public interest projects focused on the free knowledge and the online information ecosystem.

The UN AI Advisory Board is a multi-stakeholder, multidisciplinary group of experts that offer analysis and recommendations on the international governance of AI. The Advisory Board released an interim report in December 2023, titled Governing AI for Humanity, on which it requested feedback from stakeholders. The Foundation provided comments in order to promote our values—including decentralized community-led decision-making, privacy, stakeholder inclusion, internet commons, and free and open knowledge—within the efforts at building a global consensus on AI governance policy.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which provides the US president with recommendations on telecommunications policy, advancement, and regulation, requested feedback on the risks and benefits of making AI models more or less open. The Foundation submitted comments to highlight how the benefits of openness outweigh its risks, which we hope will better inform policy recommendations that concern the dual-use of widely available AI models.

Wikimedia Chile and local allies call to amend bill that could threaten access to information, culture, and art

On 13 March 2024, Wikimedia Chile, together with other allied civil society organizations and professional associations of the cultural sector in the country, published a letter in El Mercurio—one of the most widely circulated Chilean newspapers. The Wikimedia chapter and its allies warned that a bill seeking to modify the country’s Law on Intellectual Property by restricting freedom of panorama could have negative consequences for civil society’s access to art, culture, and information. The letter noted that the bill had ambiguities that could impact the work of Wikipedia volunteer editors, along with journalists, content creators and, even, the tourism industry’s ability to promote Chilean culture and landmarks.

For more details, read the published letter (in Spanish). 

Providing input about digital public policy ahead of the UN ECLAC’s 9th Ministerial Conference on the Information Society in Latin America & Caribbean

The Wikimedia Foundation has continued its efforts to provide constructive input in the interregional work of the European Union-Latin America and Caribbean (EULAC) Digital Alliance—a strategic framework to foster cooperation on a wide spectrum of digital issues. Amalia Toledo (Lead Public Policy Specialist for Latin America and the Caribbean) participated in a preparatory meeting for the 9th Ministerial Conference of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). The preparatory meeting allowed for political and technical dialogue across a variety of stakeholders ahead of the conference in November, and focused on reviewing the digital agenda and guiding digital policy priorities until 2026 (known as eLAC). At the same meeting, the EULAC Digital Alliance met to continue their policy dialogues on the topics of connectivity and artificial intelligence.

The meeting included several discussion sessions, during which the progress made by the eLAC working groups was evaluated. Our participation offered an opportunity to learn where the ECLAC’s 2024-2026 digital agenda is headed, and to identify how to best influence the development of the agenda to offer greater protection and promotion of digital public goods. We were also able to contribute to the EULAC Digital Alliance’s policy dialogues by explaining how the Wikimedia model can inform the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) regulation to encourage that AI and machine learning (ML) systems be more open, transparent, and helpful in building trust between people.

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

Participating in a Women’s History Month Wikipedia edit-a-thon
[Read a student newspaper article about the event, and watch and/or share Wikimedia District of Columbia’s edit-a-thon training video]

The Massive Data Institute at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, the Georgetown University Library, and the Georgetown University Women’s Center commemorated Women’s History Month in March with the  “Channeling ‘Rage’ to Transform Knowledge About Women Leaders” Wikipedia edit-a-thon. Rebecca MacKinnon (Vice President of Global Advocacy) was the closing speaker at the event, and Wikimedia District of Columbia was a key event partner, with representatives offering hands-on editing support.

Rebecca had the opportunity to offer thoughts on why efforts (such as this event) to close gender gaps on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects are so important: A world in which everyone thrives requires universal access to free knowledge projects like Wikipedia. In order to serve people across the world with well-sourced comprehensive knowledge, the projects must represent all the world’s people, and their knowledge. This in turn requires the participation and perspectives of half of the world’s population: women and girls. For those workshop participants who are unhappy about the representation of women and girls online, contributing to Wikipedia is a great way to take direct action for change.

Read student journalism coverage of the event, and watch Wikimedia District of Columbia’s edit-a-thon training video and/or share it with someone who wants to start participating on the Wikimedia projects.

Discussing digital public infrastructure and digital public goods at the 68th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women
[Watch our virtual side event co-hosted with Access Now]

During 11 to 22 March, representatives from United Nations (UN) Member States, UN bodies, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—including the Wikimedia Foundation—were invited from all over the world to contribute to the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). As the UN commission that promotes the empowerment of women and girls as well as gender equality worldwide, the theme of the CSW session this year was how to advance its goals “by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.”

Costanza Sciubba Caniglia (Anti-Disinformation Strategy Lead) participated in the session and also co-hosted a virtual side event with Access Now titled “Digital Public Infrastructure: A Tool for Gender Equality?” The side event aimed to discuss the critical need for a robust digital public infrastructure that supports and safeguards digital public goods for everyone in order to fulfill the promise of the internet. Wikimedians as well as members of the World Wide Web Foundation and Access Now were invited to  speak about potential barriers to women and girls’ access to and safety using digital public infrastructure and digital public goods in a live streamed discussion, which Costanza moderated.

To learn more, watch the virtual side event.

Participating in the Summit for Democracy

The Summit for Democracy is a global convening of government, civil society, and private sector leaders to form a global agenda for democratic renewal in the face of challenges to democracy globally. This year the event was held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, and focused on three themes: defending against authoritarianism, addressing and fighting corruption, and advancing respect for human rights.

Rachel Judhistari (Lead Public Policy Specialist for Asia) spoke at a session organized by the Freedom Online Coalition titled “Upholding Information Integrity Online to Reinforce Democracy and Human Rights.” It was an opportunity to continue having constructive exchanges with allied organizations such as the Global Network Initiative (GNI), Access Now, and Asia Democracy Network, and to meet with Wikimedia Korea/Hanguk—the local Wikimedia chapter.


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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