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

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Image collage for the May 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)

Wikimedia Chile hosts first Global Wiki Advocacy Meet-Up to share information and strategies across the Wikimedia movement
[Read Wikimedia Chile’s blog post about the event and learn more on the event’s Meta-Wiki webpage]

From May 2–4, Wikimedia Chile hosted the first Global Wiki Advocacy Meet-Up, a gathering of Wikimedia affiliates who work on public policy, Global Advocacy team members, and digital rights activists dedicated to the defense and protection of open knowledge in the public sphere. The event was held in the framework of the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day conference in Santiago de Chile.

At the event, representatives from more than 20 countries met for three days to exchange public policy advocacy-related experiences and challenges, identify global trends and define priority issues, and to strengthen a network involved in these matters, with a particular emphasis on inclusion of the Global South.

As a part of the meet-up, Wikimedia Chile organized two side events. The first was a workshop aimed at journalists and communicators from Chile about Wikimedia tools and disinformation and was led by Costanza Sciubba Caniglia (Anti-Disinformation Strategy Lead). The second was a discussion on digital and media literacy attended by academics, journalists, and industry representatives.

This Wikimedia affiliate-hosted meet-up marks an exciting step toward greater collaboration around advocacy and public policy in the Wikimedia movement.

Read more about the outcomes in Wikimedia Chile’s blog post and about the event in general on its Meta-Wiki webpage

Participating in the 2024 General Assembly of Wikimedia Europe
[Read more about the General Assembly and Wikimedia Europe]

On 24–25 May, members of Wikimedia affiliates from across Europe met at the 2024 General Assembly of Wikimedia Europe (WMEU) to look back on what has been accomplished in the year since WMEU’s creation, to collaboratively decide and vote on the group’s future plans, and to connect with colleagues, new and old. Meeting right before the election of a new European Parliament, the time is ripe for WMEU to support European affiliates in advocating laws and policies that protect and advance the Wikimedia model.

Ziski Putz (Senior Movement Advocacy Manager) ran a workshop in which participants identified the most important public policy advocacy skills for Wikimedians, and generated ideas for how those skills could be shared across the Wikimedia movement so as to equip more community members to engage in advocacy and public policy in their countries and regions.

Discussing the Global Digital Compact with the United Nations at re:publica

[Watch the panel discussion and read about our open letter on the Global Digital Compact]

Throughout 27–29 May, re:publica brought together internet experts and enthusiasts to speak about and collaborate around the most pressing online issues today in Berlin, Germany. The conference theme this year was “Who cares?” and emphasized the perspective of stakeholders who are often ignored or forgotten in debates about internet progress and public policy.

Rebecca MacKinnon (Vice President of Global Advocacy) participated in a panel titled “Who cares about international digital policy?” with Renata Dwan, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, and Jens Matthias Lorentz, Head of Digital Politics and AI at the German Federal Foreign Office, which was moderated by internet governance scholar Jeanette Hoffmann. The panel discussion focused on the Global Digital Compact, a set of principles and commitments for internet governance worldwide that UN Member States are discussing and planning to approve later this year at the UN-hosted Summit of the Future.

The Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia affiliates have been advocating commitments that protect free and open knowledge to be included in the Compact for some time now. Most recently, we co-authored an open letter that calls upon UN Member States to make sure the Compact embraces a positive vision for the internet’s future: one that supports and empowers diverse communities everywhere to build and operate free and open knowledge projects.

On the panel, Rebecca explained and reiterated our feedback on early drafts of the Compact, and emphasized the importance of including the voices of nonprofit, community-led platforms like the Wikimedia projects and others within the set of principles.

Watch Rebecca’s panel discussion, read about our open letter on the Global Digital Compact, and sign it if you are committed to preserving free, reliable, and open knowledge online.

Participating in the 2024 UN Civil Society Conference
[Read the conference outcomes and reflections]

During 9–10 May, the 2024 Civil Society Conference brought together senior UN system officials, prominent international civil society organizations, youth changemakers, academia, public opinion makers, and international media to discuss issues of global concern in Nairobi, Kenya.

The conference this year was an important venue for other discussions taking place before September’s Summit of the Future, which will result in several agreements, including a finalized Global Digital Compact. Arik Karani (Lead Communication Specialist, Community Resilience and Sustainability) attended the event to share the Foundation’s perspective as a member of civil society on these matters as well as to continue our advocacy around the Global Digital Compact.

For more information about the UN Civil Society Conference, read the conference outcomes and reflections.

Participating in Creative Commons’ Open Culture Strategic Workshop 
[Read more about the Open Culture Strategic Workshop and TAROC

On 22–23 May, Creative Commons organized a strategic workshop in Lisbon, Portugal to advance its Towards a Recommendation on Open Culture (TAROC) initiative, which intends to support UNESCO in developing a positive, affirmative, and influential international normative instrument—in other words, a “recommendation”—enshrining the values, objectives, and mechanisms needed for open culture to flourish.

At this event, Amalia Toledo (Lead Lead Public Policy Specialist for Latin America and the Caribbean) joined roughly 50 other participants to create a roadmap toward the recommendation in question, which included mapping stakeholders and identifying opportunities to engage them.

You can learn more about the TAROC initiative here and read a recap of the event by Creative Commons here.

Speaking on AI governance with the Ministry of Digital in Malaysia at ESEAP 2024
[Read more about ESEAP 2024]

From 10–12 May, the East, Southeast Asia and the Pacific (ESEAP) Conference 2024 gathered Wikimedia communities from across the region to discuss topics related to “Collaboration beyond the horizon” in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. This year’s conference was hosted by the Wikimedia Community User Group Malaysia and Wikimedia East, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific (ESEAP) Regional Cooperation hub.

Rachel Arinii Judhistari (Lead Public Policy Specialist for Asia), spoke at two advocacy-related events. In a session titled “Imagining AI Governance in ESEAP: Malaysia Government Plan and Wikimedia Engagement,” Rachel joined Mandeep Singh, Advisor to the Minister of Digital in Malaysia, to speak about platform and AI governance in South Asia, and how Wikimedians can contribute to the ministry’s governance development processes. In another session, she joined a roundtable to share learnings from our first Global Wiki Advocacy Meet-up and to discuss the policy landscape in the ESEAP region.

For more details, read the ESEAP 2024 webpage.

Attending the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)+20 and AI for Good Global Summit
[Read more about WSIS+20 outcomes and the AI for Good Global Summit]

Throughout 27–31 May, several UN agencies gathered stakeholders from across the globe at WSIS+20 to discuss the progress, challenges, and opportunities that have emerged in the twenty years since the original Summit, which set a framework for global digital cooperation in 2003. The framework laid out a vision to build people-centric, inclusive, and development-oriented information and knowledge societies. The event, which was held in Geneva, Switzerland, precedes the UN General Assembly’s twenty year review of WSIS.

Representing the Wikimedia Foundation, Ricky Gaines (Human Rights Policy & Advocacy Lead) attended several sessions focused on free expression, journalism, and multistakeholder participation in processes like the Global Digital Compact and forums like the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). You can learn more about the outcomes of the event in this WSIS+20 summary.

While in Geneva, Ricky also attended the AI for Good Global Summit. This event was organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) along with 40 other UN agencies. The intention was to explore and promote uses of AI that advance Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and global development priorities like health, climate, gender, inclusive prosperity, and sustainable infrastructure.

For more information, watch recordings of the event and summaries of its outcomes on the AI for Good Global Summit website.

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

Shaping a positive and inclusive vision for the online information ecosystem at World Press Freedom Day panel
[Watch the event on YouTube]

As a part of a Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) event during UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day activities, Amalia Toledo (Lead Lead Public Policy Specialist for Latin America and the Caribbean), joined a panel to discuss “Shaping a Positive and Inclusive Vision for the Online Information Ecosystem.” The panel was hosted by Derechos Digitales and featured opening remarks from Carmen Gonsalves, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Netherlands to Chile.

Amalia, along with participants from Access Now and Free Press for Eastern Europe, discussed regional trends, opportunities, and challenges with respect to information integrity and state-sponsored censorship, particularly during electoral periods. The outcomes from this event will be used to further inform the work of the FOC and its task forces on Trustworthy Information Online and on Internet Shutdowns.

You can watch the event on YouTube here.

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

Section 702 of FISA’s unfortunate reauthorization
our blog post about the renewal and expansion of Section 702]

Recently, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)—a key part of the US laws that allow surveillance activities—was up for renewal. We have long been concerned with the US government’s mass surveillance of people’s online activities and how that violates their right to privacy. You may remember that we sued the National Security Agency (NSA) over their unconstitutional data collection practices.

As part of a coalition of like-minded individuals and organizations, we have advocated that US lawmakers modify and reduce the scope of Section 702 so that:

  • Fewer people would be subject to the US’s secret spying,
  • Intelligence agencies would have to provide notice of their surveillance to protect due process and increase accountability,
  • It would be easier to bring legal challenges against unreasonable surveillance.

Unfortunately, instead of being reformed, the provision’s scope was actually expanded. It will come up for reauthorization again in 2026, and we will continue to advocate reforms. We ask those of you who live in the US to contact your representatives in Congress and ask them to reform FISA Section 702 to protect people’s privacy, and everyone else to oppose mass government surveillance where and whenever possible.

To learn more about the renewal and expansion of Section 702, read our blog post.

Announcements from our team

Join us at Wikimania 2024 in Katowice, Poland!
[View the program and register for Wikimania 2024; learn about the “Common(s) Cause” side event and fill out the interest form]

Wikimania 2024 is fast approaching! The 19th edition of Wikimania will be held in Katowice, Poland on 7–10 August. A partnership between Wikimedians of the Central and Eastern Europe region and the Wikimedia Foundation, the conference will host free knowledge leaders from around the world to discuss issues, report on new projects and approaches, build networks, and exchange ideas.

There will be plenty to do for those interested in public policy advocacy at Wikimania 2024. In the main program, the Global Advocacy team will be hosting three sessions, which are focused on: information integrity during elections, child rights, and stories of public policy work in the movement. On 6 August, the day before Wikimania kicks off, Wikimedia Europe and a group of open movement organizations that include Creative Commons, Open Knowledge Foundation, and the Open Future Foundation will host a day-long side event called “Common(s) Cause: Towards a shared advocacy strategy for the Knowledge Commons.” This event will bring parties interested in advocacy together to make connections and discuss how to improve collaboration around three topics: 1) legal and policy issues, 2) communication and global campaigns, and 3) community activation and sustainability. If you are interested in this event, please fill out the interest form.

Whether it is online or in-person, we’ll be excited to see you at Wikimania! Be quick and register now!

New Wiki Minute video explains why Wikipedia is different from social media platforms
[Watch the one-minute video and others in the series]

A new Wiki Minute video explains what makes Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects so different from social media platforms, from the fact that anyone can contribute to the content, to its community self-governance, and strong privacy protections. The Wiki Minute series features short, shareable videos that explain different aspects of how the Wikimedia community and Wikimedia Foundation work together to steward our free knowledge projects like Wikipedia.

This video makes clear how Wikipedia’s unique model sets it aside from social media platforms. The creation and curation of content on the platform is community-led, enjoying strong user privacy protections, keeping the site ad-free, and never selling user data. Most importantly, the video highlights that everyone can contribute to Wikipedia and other Wikimedia free knowledge projects. As more regulations seek to target the potential social harms of large social media platforms, this video provides a (very!) brief answer as to why regulators should continue to consider the nonprofit, public interest Wikimedia model when drafting new laws—as well as an explanation about why the Wikimedia Foundation so staunchly protects the Wikimedia community’s ability to self-govern through in its public policy advocacy efforts.

Other videos in the series have explained concepts like who is in charge of content on Wikipedia, how Wikipedia protects the privacy of readers and volunteers, and how misinformation is addressed on Wikipedia. The videos are available in six different languages.

Watch this Wiki Minute video and others on YouTube, and please share them with those who might be interested.


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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