Wikimedia Policy
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Wikimedia Policy

European Parliament vote on the Digital Services Act supports a free, non-commercial internet

A close-up image of long, uninterrupted wooden desks and chairs that form a semi-circle. This is the European Parliament’s Hemicycle in Brussels.
The European Parliament’s Hemicycle in Brussels. Image from Davidbottan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Wikimedia Foundation welcomes the results of an important vote by the European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee on key provisions of the Digital Services Act (DSA). With the December 13th vote, European lawmakers have sent a clear signal of their intent to enact internet regulations that protect people’s right to to participate freely in the sharing of knowledge.

We have been actively engaged in the debates around the Digital Services Act that have led up to today’s vote by the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO). We have worked closely with members of the Wikimedia community in the European Union to ensure lawmakers and governments understand how appropriate internet regulation can protect public interest platforms like Wikipedia. Our main concerns, since the publication of the original proposal for the DSA in 2020, have been with rules that would disempower the volunteer communities that maintain and contribute to open knowledge projects by forcing platform operators to impose centralized control over content and governance. It is crucial that lawmakers avoid enacting laws that are primarily intended to address the problems caused by the business models of the world’s largest commercial tech platforms; such policy can also inflict unintended consequences upon non-commercial platforms and the online communities that they serve. Europe’s elected representatives should instead adopt policies that promote and protect online civic spaces and participation in digital society, which includes collaborative decision-making about content and architectures of the internet.

Amendments to key DSA provisions adopted today will ensure that online collaboration and free knowledge can continue to flourish. One amendment (to Art. 12) delivers an important clarification by making a distinction between terms of use set by platform operators and rules developed by people who use the platform. Another amendment (to Art. 14) improves a provision that would have incentivized the automatic filtering of content. Going forward, we encourage Members of the European Parliament to maintain these crucial amendments as the DSA proceeds to a plenary vote in 2022 so that future internet regulation protects public interest platforms and the public’s right to participate in digital society.

Written by Jan Gerlach, Director of Public Policy, Wikimedia Foundation

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Wikimedia Policy

Wikimedia Policy

policy.wikimedia.org - Stories by Wikimedia's Public Policy Team and friends and allies.