A photo of the Plenary of the European Parliament during a vote in 2020.
A photo of the Plenary of the European Parliament during a vote in 2020.
Image: European Parliament, under CC-BY 4.0

The Regulation on addressing the dissemination of terrorist content online (TERREG) has been adopted without a final vote thanks to a peculiarity in European Parliament procedure. The dangers of content filtering, over-policing of content by state and private actors, and the cross-border prerogatives for governments will now become law without a final stamp from the elected representatives of the European citizens.

What happened (and what didn’t)

A Plenary debate had been scheduled to discuss the draft legislation one last time. However, the voting list released for the Terrorist Content Regulation specified it would be approved without a final vote. A…


A black and white photo of a man looking at newspapers on a street corner in Vienna, Austria.
A black and white photo of a man looking at newspapers on a street corner in Vienna, Austria.
Mariahilfer Strasse — Oesterleingasse sarok by Urbán Tamás (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Over the past couple of months, many who are interested in internet policy have been watching developments in Australia, where a proposed Mandatory Bargaining Code will force some internet platforms to pay for linking to content by news publishers and displaying snippets thereof. While it isn’t entirely clear yet what services will be covered by the Code, requiring payment for links from one website to another directly contradicts a fundamental principle of the open Web. …


The photograph shows reading glasses placed on a page of a book.
The photograph shows reading glasses placed on a page of a book.
Image: Reading Glasses by James Sutton under CC0 1.0

A new EU regulation aims to streamline the process by which a prosecutor from one EU Member State can request electronic evidence from a server in another Member State. As current procedures are messy, this is necessary. But the current proposal would also mean that prosecutors could request data about who has read which Wikipedia article without judicial oversight and without a possibility for the country’s authority that hosts the platform to intervene in case of fundamental rights breaches. That is worrisome!

The Wikimedia Foundation gathers very little about the users and editors on its projects, including Wikipedia. This is…


The image shows an antenna at the summit of Baigura with Labourd in the French Basque Country in the background.
The image shows an antenna at the summit of Baigura with Labourd in the French Basque Country in the background.
Antenna on the summit of Baigura: Image by Iñaki LLM, under CC-BY-SA 4.0

At a time of a worldwide pandemic, access to digitized cultural heritage has proven more important than ever. Institutions such as galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAM) and other preservers of knowledge have opened up their inventory and vaults allowing educators and creative minds to find moments of enlightenment and awe. These monumental digitization efforts make knowledge and cultural artifacts, tokens of our past and our modern society, visible.

The same mission is now also taken on by media outlets whose primary purpose is public service, the public broadcasters. The biggest public broadcasters in Germany are now, for the first…


The Wikimedia Foundation’s take on the DSA: Cautious optimism, but also concerns about empowering bad-faith actors

The image shows railroad crossings in Buenos Aires in 1908. It was published in the Electric Railway Journal.
The image shows railroad crossings in Buenos Aires in 1908. It was published in the Electric Railway Journal.
Railroad Crossings (Electric Railway Journal, 1908)

The European Commission recently released its proposal for the Digital Services Act (DSA), a law that will change the legal underpinnings of online life in Europe, and, by extension, the world. One of the main components of the proposal creates a framework of obligations for online hosts — a group which includes the Wikimedia Foundation in its role as the host of Wikipedia.

The current law on the liability of hosts, governed by Article 14 of the e-Commerce Directive, says that online hosts aren’t liable for what their users post if they don’t know about any illegal activity, and if…


Image by Alejandro Núnez Frometa, under CC-BY-SA 4.0

The German Presidency of the EU is accelerating the trilogue negotiations around the terrorist content regulation (TERREG). Yet, faster doesn’t always mean better, as the German compromise text proves. The most disturbing ideas in the compromise pose an attack on freedom and pluralism of the media and of arts and sciences. Is the new text a lapse of judgement or a glimpse into how a modern EU government envisions its powers over democratic discourse and the role of tech in it?

Media and arts with the seal of approval of governments?

One of the issues with the proposal for a…


The Wikimedia Foundation’s Transparency Report is a critical part of our commitment to maintaining Wikipedia as a trustworthy and reliable resource for free knowledge. This report discloses the requests we receive to remove or alter content on the Wikimedia projects, or to release nonpublic information about our editors and readers. These requests come from governments and private individuals alike. We release this report twice a year, and the current one covers requests we received from January to June 2020.

Ice ridges on Lake Baikal at sunset near Olkhon island
Ice ridges on Lake Baikal at sunset near Olkhon island
Sergey Pesterev: Lake Baikal at Sunset (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Thousands of volunteer editors around the world create and sustain the Wikimedia projects; they write and update content, and they set…


EU officials continue to push for drastic measures to moderate online communications under the anti-terrorist banner

A black-and-white painting from 1887 shows a crowd waving farewell to General Boulanger from Gare de Lyon in Paris.
A black-and-white painting from 1887 shows a crowd waving farewell to General Boulanger from Gare de Lyon in Paris.
Auguste Gérardin: Le départ du Général Boulanger (1887, Public Domain)

What is the best way to combat terrorism? According to the European Commission, it is to clean the internet of terrorist content. Despite little clarity as to what terrorist content really is, the EU institutions are working towards a new regulation that would likely require a wide range of online services to follow the ill-designed measures — measures that would also affect Wikipedia. Yet, the lack of clear definitions, combined with proposed requirements to filter or immediately remove information, threatens democratic discourse and online collaboration.

TL;DR

  • The European Commission tackles the existence of content related to terrorism online through a new…

On Thursday, July 30th, the Wikimedia Foundation’s 2020 Summer Legal Fellows hosted a lively and interactive discussion on the Use of Machine Learning Algorithms in Content Moderation. The central question for the panel was: Can we regulate the extent of biased decisions that AI makes? The aim of the discussion was to shed light on the existing statutes regulating AI, how bias affects these complex algorithms, the societal impacts of bias for AI in an unregulated environment, and how well the legal and technology communities can collaborate on eliminating the effects of such bias.

A collage around a prism, inspired by the visual art of Pink Floyd
A collage around a prism, inspired by the visual art of Pink Floyd
Image: Pink Floyd by Nesta592 under CC 4.0

The technology experts began by highlighting…


The Wikimedia Foundation’s Transparency Report is a critical part of our commitment to maintaining Wikipedia as a trustworthy and reliable resource for free knowledge. This report discloses the requests we receive to remove or alter content on the Wikimedia projects, or to release nonpublic information about our editors and readers. These requests come from governments and private individuals alike. We release this report twice a year, and the current one covers requests we received from July to December 2019.

Sunlight streams through curtains behind a window.
Sunlight streams through curtains behind a window.
Image by Orlova Maria under CC0 1.0

Thousands of volunteer editors around the world write and update the Wikimedia projects and set the policies that determine what belongs…

Wikimedia Policy

policy.wikimedia.org - Stories by Wikimedia's Public Policy Team: Stephen LaPorte, Allison Davenport, Sherwin Siy, and Jan Gerlach.

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