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EU must work harder to tackle disinformation

- July 2, 2019 in disinformation, eu, News

The European Union must work harder to tackle the spread of disinformation on the internet, the Open Knowledge Foundation has warned. In a letter to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, chief executive Catherine Stihler has called for action to be ‘prioritised’ regarding online platforms that fail to do enough to tackle disinformation or do not fulfil promises made. She said ‘no sufficient progress has been made in developing tools to increase the transparency and trustworthiness of websites hosting adverts’, and Google and Twitter need to take steps to ensure the transparency of issue-based advertising. The letter comes after disinformation was discussed at last month’s European Council summit. Catherine Stihler, chief executive of the Open Knowledge Foundation, said:
“Words are not enough in this battle to build a fair, free and open future. It is essential that the European Commission prioritises action regarding online platforms that fail to do enough to tackle disinformation or do not fulfil promises made. I firmly believe the institutions of the European Union must use their influence to force online platforms to provide more detailed information allowing the identification of malign actors, put pressure on Google and Twitter to increase transparency, and encourage closer working with fact checkers to prevent the spread of disinformation. The best way to tackle disinformation is to make information open, allowing journalists, developers and the research community to carry out analysis of disinformation operations.

With upcoming national elections across the EU, this is of paramount importance to help rebuild trust in politics and build a fair, free and open future.”

EU Council backs controversial copyright crackdown

- April 15, 2019 in copyright, eu, Featured, Internet, News, Policy

The Council of the European Union today backed a controversial copyright crackdown in a ‘deeply disappointing’ vote that could impact on all internet users. Six countries voted against the proposal which has been opposed by 5million people through a Europe-wide petition – Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Finland and Sweden.
Three more nations abstained, but the UK voted for the crackdown and there were not enough votes for a blocking minority. The proposal is expected to lead to the introduction of ‘filters’ on sites such as YouTube, which will automatically remove content that could be copyrighted. While entertainment footage is most likely to be affected, academics fear it could also restrict the sharing of knowledge, and critics argue it will have a negative impact on freedom of speech and expression online. EU member states will have two years to implement the law, and the regulations are still expected to affect the UK despite Brexit. The Open Knowledge Foundation said the battle is not over, with the European elections providing an opportunity to elect ‘open champions’. Catherine Stihler, chief executive of the Open Knowledge Foundation, said:
“This is a deeply disappointing result which will have a far-reaching and negative impact on freedom of speech and expression online. The controversial crackdown was not universally supported, and I applaud those national governments which took a stand and voted against it. We now risk the creation of a more closed society at the very time we should be using digital advances to build a more open world where knowledge creates power for the many, not the few.

But the battle is not over. Next month’s European elections are an opportunity to elect a strong cohort of open champions at the European Parliament who will work to build a more open world.”

EU copyright vote a ‘massive blow’ for internet users

- March 26, 2019 in copyright, eu, Featured, Internet, News, Policy

MEPs have today voted to press ahead with a controversial copyright crackdown in a ‘massive blow’ for all internet users. Despite a petition with over 5 million signatures and scores of protests across Europe attended by tens of thousands of people, MEPs voted by 348 to 274 in favour of the changes. It is expected to lead to the introduction of ‘filters’ on sites such as YouTube, which will automatically remove content that could be copyrighted. While entertainment footage is most likely to be affected, academics fear it could also restrict the sharing of knowledge, and critics argue it will have a negative impact on freedom of speech and expression online. EU member states will have two years to implement the law, and the regulations are still expected to affect the UK despite Brexit. Catherine Stihler, chief executive of the Open Knowledge Foundation, said:
“This vote is a massive blow for every internet user in Europe. MEPs have rejected pleas from millions of EU citizens to save the internet, and chose instead to restrict freedom of speech and expression online. We now risk the creation of a more closed society at the very time we should be using digital advances to build a more open world where knowledge creates power for the many, not the few.

But while this result is deeply disappointing, the forthcoming European elections provide an opportunity for candidates to stand on a platform to seek a fresh mandate to reject this censorship.”

Final copyright vote: MEPs must choose to save the internet

- March 26, 2019 in copyright, eu, Featured, Internet, News

MEPs will today vote on a controversial copyright crackdown that could restrict internet freedoms for millions of people. After years of negotiation, the final vote will be held on reforms that could result in automatic ‘upload filters’ which restrict what can be posted on social media platforms like YouTube. More than 5.1million people have signed a petition to ‘save the internet’, and scores of protests attended by tens of thousands of people were held across Europe at the weekend. While entertainment footage such as video game clips or copyrighted songs are most likely to be affected, academics fear it could also restrict the sharing of knowledge. The vote will be one of the last major decisions taken by MEPs before the European elections, and possibly the last by the UK’s MEPs ahead of Brexit. Over 120 MEPs have publicly pledged to vote against the crackdown, but that includes only three from the UK. Brexit does not offer an escape route from the changes, as any website that operates within the EU is likely to abide by the regulations. Catherine Stihler, chief executive of Open Knowledge International which campaigns for openness, said:
“If passed, this copyright crackdown will lead to a chilling effect on freedom of speech. It could change the web as we know it and restrict how we share research that could lead to medical breakthroughs or how we share facts to combat the spread of ‘fake news’. MEPs must choose to save the internet in this crucial vote. I particularly urge the UK’s MEPs to stand up and be counted while they still have a voice at the top table, as this will affect everyone in the UK even after Brexit. We must use digital advances for the public good and help build a more open world, not create a more closed society.”

Catherine Stihler was MEP for Scotland until January 2019. As an MEP, she was vice-chair of the European Parliament’s consumer protection committee and led the fight against the proposals. More background information on the proposal is available here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-47239600

EU’s chilling copyright crackdown an ‘attack on openness’

- February 14, 2019 in copyright, eu, Internet, News

EU negotiators have struck a deal over copyright reform that is an ‘attack on openness’, the new chief executive of Open Knowledge International has warned. Catherine Stihler, a former MEP and vice-chair of the European Parliament’s consumer protection committee, said the changes will restrict internet freedoms for millions of users. The agreement will require platforms such as Youtube, Twitter or Google News to take down user-generated content that could breach intellectual property and install filters to prevent people from uploading copyrighted material. That means memes, GIFs and music remixes may be taken down because the copyright does not belong to the uploader. It could also restrict the sharing of vital research and facts, allowing ‘fake news’ to spread. The proposed changes will now head to the European Parliament for a vote among all MEPs in March or April. Open Knowledge International is a non-profit organisation which fights for open data and helps groups access and use data to address social problems. Catherine Stihler, chief executive of Open Knowledge International, said:
“This deeply disappointing deal is an attack on openness. The copyright crackdown will lead to a chilling effect on freedom of speech across the EU. We want people to be empowered to build, share and reuse their own data and content freely and openly, and this move goes against that principle. It does not enhance citizens’ rights, and could lead to Europe becoming a more closed society – restricting how we share research that could lead to medical breakthroughs or how we share facts to combat the spread of ‘fake news’. I urge MEPs to vote down this proposal and fight for a future where our world is more open.”

For more information on how you can help save your internet, you can visit saveyourinternet.eu or sign the online petition along with millions of others.

Europe’s proposed PSI Directive: A good baseline for future open data policies?

- June 21, 2018 in eu, licence, Open Data, Open Government Data, Open Standards, Policy, PSI, research

Some weeks ago, the European Commission proposed an update of the PSI Directive**. The PSI Directive regulates the reuse of public sector information (including administrative government data), and has important consequences for the development of Europe’s open data policies. Like every legislative proposal, the PSI Directive proposal is open for public feedback until July 13. In this blog post Open Knowledge International presents what we think are necessary improvements to make the PSI Directive fit for Europe’s Digital Single Market.    In a guest blogpost Ton Zijlstra outlined the changes to the PSI Directive. Another blog post by Ton Zijlstra and Katleen Janssen helps to understand the historical background and puts the changes into context. Whilst improvements are made, we think the current proposal is a missed opportunity, does not support the creation of a Digital Single Market and can pose risks for open data. In what follows, we recommend changes to the European Parliament and the European Council. We also discuss actions civil society may take to engage with the directive in the future, and explain the reasoning behind our recommendations.

Recommendations to improve the PSI Directive

Based on our assessment, we urge the European Parliament and the Council to amend the proposed PSI Directive to ensure the following:
  • When defining high-value datasets, the PSI Directive should not rule out data generated under market conditions. A stronger requirement must be added to Article 13 to make assessments of economic costs transparent, and weigh them against broader societal benefits.
  • The public must have access to the methods, meeting notes, and consultations to define high value data. Article 13 must ensure that the public will be able to participate in this definition process to gather multiple viewpoints and limit the risks of biased value assessments.
  • Beyond tracking proposals for high-value datasets in the EU’s Interinstitutional Register of Delegated Acts, the public should be able to suggest new delegated acts for high-value datasets.  
  • The PSI Directive must make clear what “standard open licences” are, by referencing the Open Definition, and explicitly recommending the adoption of Open Definition compliant licences (from Creative Commons and Open Data Commons) when developing new open data policies. The directive should give preference to public domain dedication and attribution licences in accordance with the LAPSI 2.0 licensing guidelines.
  • Government of EU member states that already have policies on specific licences in use should be required to add legal compatibility tests with other open licences to these policies. We suggest to follow the recommendations outlined in the LAPSI 2.0 resources to run such compatibility tests.
  • High-value datasets must be reusable with the least restrictions possible, subject at most to requirements that preserve provenance and openness. Currently the European Commission risks to create use silos if governments will be allowed to add “any restrictions on re-use” to the use terms of high-value datasets.  
  • Publicly funded undertakings should only be able to charge marginal costs.
  • Public undertakings, publicly funded research facilities and non-executive government branches should be required to publish data referenced in the PSI Directive.

Conformant licences according to the Open Definition, opendefinition.org/licenses

Our recommendations do not pose unworkable requirements or disproportionately high administrative burden, but are essential to realise the goals of the PSI directive with regards to:
  1. Increasing the amount of public sector data available to the public for re-use,
  2. Harmonising the conditions for non-discrimination, and re-use in the European market,
  3. Ensuring fair competition and easy access to markets based on public sector information,
  4. Enhancing cross-border innovation, and an internal market where Union-wide services can be created to support the European data economy.

Our recommendations, explained: What would the proposed PSI Directive mean for the future of open data?

Publication of high-value data

The European Commission proposes to define a list of ‘high value datasets’ that shall be published under the terms of the PSI Directive. This includes to publish datasets in machine-readable formats, under standard open licences, in many cases free of charge, except when high-value datasets are collected by public undertakings in environments where free access to data would distort competition. “High value datasets” are defined as documents that bring socio-economic benefits, “notably because of their suitability for the creation of value-added services and applications, and the number of potential beneficiaries of the value-added services and applications based on these datasets”. The EC also makes reference to existing high value datasets, such as the list of key data defined by the G8 Open Data Charter. Identifying high-quality data poses at least three problems:
  1. High-value datasets may be unusable in a digital Single Market: The EC may “define other applicable modalities”, such as “any conditions for re-use”. There is a risk that a list of EU-wide high value datasets also includes use restrictions violating the Open Definition. Given that a list of high value datasets will be transposed by all member states, adding “any conditions” may significantly hinder the reusability and ability to combine datasets.
  2. Defining value of data is not straightforward. Recent papers, from Oxford University, to Open Data Watch and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data demonstrate disagreement what data’s “value” is. What counts as high value data should not only be based on quantitative indicators such as growth indicators, numbers of apps or numbers of beneficiaries, but use qualitative assessments and expert judgement from multiple disciplines.
  3. Public deliberation and participation is key to define high value data and to avoid biased value assessments. Impact assessments and cost-benefit calculations come with their own methodical biases, and can unfairly favour data with economic value at the expense of fuzzier social benefits. Currently, the PSI Directive does not consider data created under market conditions to be considered high value data if this would distort market conditions. We recommend that the PSI Directive adds a stronger requirement to weigh economic costs against societal benefits, drawing from multiple assessment methods (see point 2). The criteria, methods, and processes to determine high value must be transparent and accessible to the broader public to enable the public to negotiate benefits and to reflect the viewpoints of many stakeholders.

Expansion of scope

The new PSI Directive takes into account data from “public undertakings”. This includes services in the general interest entrusted with entities outside of the public sector, over which government maintains a high degree of control. The PSI Directive also includes data from non-executive government branches (i.e. from legislative and judiciary branches of governments), as well as data from publicly funded research. Opportunities and challenges include:
  • None of the data holders which are planned to be included in the PSI Directive are obliged to publish data. It is at their discretion to publish data. Only in case they want to publish data, they should follow the guidelines of the proposed PSI directive.
  • The PSI Directive wants to keep administrative costs low. All above mentioned data sectors are exempt from data access requests.
  • In summary, the proposed PSI Directive leaves too much space for individual choice to publish data and has no “teeth”. To accelerate the publication of general interest data, the PSI Directive should oblige data holders to publish data. Waiting several years to make the publication of this data mandatory, as happened with the first version of the PSI Directive risks to significantly hamper the availability of key data, important for the acceleration of growth in Europe’s data economy.    
  • For research data in particular, only data that is already published should fall under the new directive. Even though the PSI Directive will require member states to develop open access policies, the implementation thereof should be built upon the EU’s recommendations for open access.

Legal incompatibilities may jeopardise the Digital Single Market

Most notably, the proposed PSI Directive does not address problems around licensing which are a major impediment for Europe’s Digital Single Market. Europe’s data economy can only benefit from open data if licence terms are standardised. This allows data from different member states to be combined without legal issues, and enables to combine datasets, create cross-country applications, and spark innovation. Europe’s licensing ecosystem is a patchwork of many (possibly conflicting) terms, creating use silos and legal uncertainty. But the current proposal does not only speak vaguely about standard open licences, and makes national policies responsible to add “less restrictive terms than those outlined in the PSI Directive”. It also contradicts its aim to smoothen the digital Single Market encouraging the creation of bespoke licences, suggesting that governments may add new licence terms with regards to real-time data publication. Currently the PSI Directive would allow the European Commission to add “any conditions for re-use” to high-value datasets, thereby encouraging to create legal incompatibilities (see Article 13 (4.a)). We strongly recommend that the PSI Directive draws on the EU co-funded LAPSI 2.0 recommendations to understand licence incompatibilities and ensure a compatible open licence ecosystem.   I’d like to thank Pierre Chrzanowksi, Mika Honkanen, Susanna Ånäs, and Sander van der Waal for their thoughtful comments while writing this blogpost.   Image adapted from Max Pixel   ** Its’ official name is the Directive 2003/98/EC on the reuse of public sector information.

Europe’s proposed PSI Directive: A good baseline for future open data policies?

- June 21, 2018 in eu, licence, Open Data, Open Government Data, Open Standards, Policy, PSI, research

Some weeks ago, the European Commission proposed an update of the PSI Directive**. The PSI Directive regulates the reuse of public sector information (including administrative government data), and has important consequences for the development of Europe’s open data policies. Like every legislative proposal, the PSI Directive proposal is open for public feedback until July 13. In this blog post Open Knowledge International presents what we think are necessary improvements to make the PSI Directive fit for Europe’s Digital Single Market.    In a guest blogpost Ton Zijlstra outlined the changes to the PSI Directive. Another blog post by Ton Zijlstra and Katleen Janssen helps to understand the historical background and puts the changes into context. Whilst improvements are made, we think the current proposal is a missed opportunity, does not support the creation of a Digital Single Market and can pose risks for open data. In what follows, we recommend changes to the European Parliament and the European Council. We also discuss actions civil society may take to engage with the directive in the future, and explain the reasoning behind our recommendations.

Recommendations to improve the PSI Directive

Based on our assessment, we urge the European Parliament and the Council to amend the proposed PSI Directive to ensure the following:
  • When defining high-value datasets, the PSI Directive should not rule out data generated under market conditions. A stronger requirement must be added to Article 13 to make assessments of economic costs transparent, and weigh them against broader societal benefits.
  • The public must have access to the methods, meeting notes, and consultations to define high value data. Article 13 must ensure that the public will be able to participate in this definition process to gather multiple viewpoints and limit the risks of biased value assessments.
  • Beyond tracking proposals for high-value datasets in the EU’s Interinstitutional Register of Delegated Acts, the public should be able to suggest new delegated acts for high-value datasets.  
  • The PSI Directive must make clear what “standard open licences” are, by referencing the Open Definition, and explicitly recommending the adoption of Open Definition compliant licences (from Creative Commons and Open Data Commons) when developing new open data policies. The directive should give preference to public domain dedication and attribution licences in accordance with the LAPSI 2.0 licensing guidelines.
  • Government of EU member states that already have policies on specific licences in use should be required to add legal compatibility tests with other open licences to these policies. We suggest to follow the recommendations outlined in the LAPSI 2.0 resources to run such compatibility tests.
  • High-value datasets must be reusable with the least restrictions possible, subject at most to requirements that preserve provenance and openness. Currently the European Commission risks to create use silos if governments will be allowed to add “any restrictions on re-use” to the use terms of high-value datasets.  
  • Publicly funded undertakings should only be able to charge marginal costs.
  • Public undertakings, publicly funded research facilities and non-executive government branches should be required to publish data referenced in the PSI Directive.

Conformant licences according to the Open Definition, opendefinition.org/licenses

Our recommendations do not pose unworkable requirements or disproportionately high administrative burden, but are essential to realise the goals of the PSI directive with regards to:
  1. Increasing the amount of public sector data available to the public for re-use,
  2. Harmonising the conditions for non-discrimination, and re-use in the European market,
  3. Ensuring fair competition and easy access to markets based on public sector information,
  4. Enhancing cross-border innovation, and an internal market where Union-wide services can be created to support the European data economy.

Our recommendations, explained: What would the proposed PSI Directive mean for the future of open data?

Publication of high-value data

The European Commission proposes to define a list of ‘high value datasets’ that shall be published under the terms of the PSI Directive. This includes to publish datasets in machine-readable formats, under standard open licences, in many cases free of charge, except when high-value datasets are collected by public undertakings in environments where free access to data would distort competition. “High value datasets” are defined as documents that bring socio-economic benefits, “notably because of their suitability for the creation of value-added services and applications, and the number of potential beneficiaries of the value-added services and applications based on these datasets”. The EC also makes reference to existing high value datasets, such as the list of key data defined by the G8 Open Data Charter. Identifying high-quality data poses at least three problems:
  1. High-value datasets may be unusable in a digital Single Market: The EC may “define other applicable modalities”, such as “any conditions for re-use”. There is a risk that a list of EU-wide high value datasets also includes use restrictions violating the Open Definition. Given that a list of high value datasets will be transposed by all member states, adding “any conditions” may significantly hinder the reusability and ability to combine datasets.
  2. Defining value of data is not straightforward. Recent papers, from Oxford University, to Open Data Watch and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data demonstrate disagreement what data’s “value” is. What counts as high value data should not only be based on quantitative indicators such as growth indicators, numbers of apps or numbers of beneficiaries, but use qualitative assessments and expert judgement from multiple disciplines.
  3. Public deliberation and participation is key to define high value data and to avoid biased value assessments. Impact assessments and cost-benefit calculations come with their own methodical biases, and can unfairly favour data with economic value at the expense of fuzzier social benefits. Currently, the PSI Directive does not consider data created under market conditions to be considered high value data if this would distort market conditions. We recommend that the PSI Directive adds a stronger requirement to weigh economic costs against societal benefits, drawing from multiple assessment methods (see point 2). The criteria, methods, and processes to determine high value must be transparent and accessible to the broader public to enable the public to negotiate benefits and to reflect the viewpoints of many stakeholders.

Expansion of scope

The new PSI Directive takes into account data from “public undertakings”. This includes services in the general interest entrusted with entities outside of the public sector, over which government maintains a high degree of control. The PSI Directive also includes data from non-executive government branches (i.e. from legislative and judiciary branches of governments), as well as data from publicly funded research. Opportunities and challenges include:
  • None of the data holders which are planned to be included in the PSI Directive are obliged to publish data. It is at their discretion to publish data. Only in case they want to publish data, they should follow the guidelines of the proposed PSI directive.
  • The PSI Directive wants to keep administrative costs low. All above mentioned data sectors are exempt from data access requests.
  • In summary, the proposed PSI Directive leaves too much space for individual choice to publish data and has no “teeth”. To accelerate the publication of general interest data, the PSI Directive should oblige data holders to publish data. Waiting several years to make the publication of this data mandatory, as happened with the first version of the PSI Directive risks to significantly hamper the availability of key data, important for the acceleration of growth in Europe’s data economy.    
  • For research data in particular, only data that is already published should fall under the new directive. Even though the PSI Directive will require member states to develop open access policies, the implementation thereof should be built upon the EU’s recommendations for open access.

Legal incompatibilities may jeopardise the Digital Single Market

Most notably, the proposed PSI Directive does not address problems around licensing which are a major impediment for Europe’s Digital Single Market. Europe’s data economy can only benefit from open data if licence terms are standardised. This allows data from different member states to be combined without legal issues, and enables to combine datasets, create cross-country applications, and spark innovation. Europe’s licensing ecosystem is a patchwork of many (possibly conflicting) terms, creating use silos and legal uncertainty. But the current proposal does not only speak vaguely about standard open licences, and makes national policies responsible to add “less restrictive terms than those outlined in the PSI Directive”. It also contradicts its aim to smoothen the digital Single Market encouraging the creation of bespoke licences, suggesting that governments may add new licence terms with regards to real-time data publication. Currently the PSI Directive would allow the European Commission to add “any conditions for re-use” to high-value datasets, thereby encouraging to create legal incompatibilities (see Article 13 (4.a)). We strongly recommend that the PSI Directive draws on the EU co-funded LAPSI 2.0 recommendations to understand licence incompatibilities and ensure a compatible open licence ecosystem.   I’d like to thank Pierre Chrzanowksi, Mika Honkanen, Susanna Ånäs, and Sander van der Waal for their thoughtful comments while writing this blogpost.   Image adapted from Max Pixel   ** Its’ official name is the Directive 2003/98/EC on the reuse of public sector information.

GDPR: Λήψη αυτοματοποιημένων αποφάσεων και κατάρτιση προφίλ

- February 16, 2018 in eu, gdpr, profiling, protection, regulation, Μη κατηγοριοποιημένο

Ο Γενικός Κανονισμός για την Προστασία Δεδομένων (ΓΚΠΣ) θα ισχύσει από τις 25 Μαΐου 2018 αντικαθιστώντας την οδηγία 95/46/ΕΚ για την Προστασία Προσωπικών Δεδομένων. Στα πλαίσια του κανονισμού, εισάγεται ρύθμιση για την κατάρτιση προφίλ και τα δικαιώματα των υποκειμένων έναντι της απολύτως αυτοματοποιημένης λήψης αποφάσεων και τις συνέπειες της.

GDPR: Τα δικαιώματά μου ως χρήστης

- February 14, 2018 in consent, eu, gdpr, privacy, protection, Rights, Μη κατηγοριοποιημένο

Ο Γενικός Κανονισμός για την Προστασία Δεδομένων (ΓΚΠΣ) θα ισχύσει από τις 25 Μαΐου 2018 αντικαθιστώντας την οδηγία 95/46/ΕΚ για την Προστασία Προσωπικών Δεδομένων. Στα πλαίσια των αρχών του κανονισμού, τα υποκείμενα των δεδομένων αποκτούν νέα δικαιώματα, μεταξύ άλλων αυτών της ενημέρωσης, της πρόσβασης και της λήθης.

GDPR: Πεδίο εφαρμογής, αρχές και ασφάλεια

- February 12, 2018 in eu, gdpr, personal-data, protection, Μη κατηγοριοποιημένο

Ο Γενικός Κανονισμός για την Προστασία Δεδομένων (ΓΚΠΣ) θα ισχύσει από τις 25 Μαΐου 2018 αντικαθιστώντας την οδηγία 95/46/ΕΚ για την Προστασία Προσωπικών Δεδομένων. Ο κανονισμός στοχεύει τόσο στην θέσπιση ενός ενιαίου πλαισίου προστασίας των προσωπικών δεδομένων σε όλη την Ένωση όσο και στην διασφάλιση της ελεύθερης διασυνοριακής διακίνησης δεδομένων.