Human Rights Team
The Human Rights Team of the Wikimedia Foundation aims to support volunteer contributors persecuted due to their good faith contribution to the projects and to facilitate the organization's work related to its Human Rights Policy. The Wikimedia movement aims to ensure everyone, everywhere can freely and safely share in the sum of free knowledge. Yet, around the world the vision of a free and open Internet is dwindling and editing environments in regards to the many Wikimedia projects are becoming increasingly challenging. Indeed in a world as connected as ours, the need to control information and sway narratives has led people in power, governmental and otherwise, to great lengths to push their agendas and hinder the fundamental human rights of Wikimedia community members. It is in this context that the Human Rights Team at the Wikimedia Foundation was created. We are a group of dedicated human rights defenders located in the Legal department and are working towards mitigating risks and threats to individual contributors and groups supporting the Foundation’s vision to imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. The team strives to find a balance between upholding the freedom of expression in creating the sum of all human knowledge while also making sure the human rights of our valued community members and people they may have written about are protected.
Continuing with the important work of the Voices under Threat initiative, the Human Rights Team will work to deliver several issues from the 2018 - 2020 Movement Strategy recommendations on the journey towards becoming the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge by 2030.
What we do
We are dedicated towards upholding and defending the human rights of the movement’s volunteers to allow the continued contribution to reliable, well-resourced, and uncensored knowledge to the various Wikimedia projects across the platform. We are currently in the process of building three pillars to help us realize this mission.
Do you lock your door when you leave your house? Do you publicly walk around with a name tag? Do you use the same key for your car and your office? Albeit seemingly dumb question whose answers are likely quite obvious, what steps are you taking to protect yourself online? Do you use different passwords for different accounts? Is your username simply your first and your last name? Do you have a picture of yourself on your userpage? Although the offline world may seem distinct to the online world, online threats are just as valid and can be just as harmful. Furthermore, in an increasingly digital world, wherein the lines between offline and online are growingly blurred, being aware of one's digital security risks and taking precautionary measures has become immensely important. Indeed, your digital security practices (or lack thereof) also influence the digital security of your friends and your family.
Through a pool of digital security resources as well as training sessions and regular office hours, the Human Rights Team hopes to highlight varied digital security risks our community members face, help you take measures to tackle them and preemptively mitigate any harm that might come to you as you go about participating in the various Wikimedia projects specifically and engage with the Internet more broadly. After all, privacy and digital security is critical to sustaining freedom of expression and enabling knowledge and ideas to thrive.
Digital security training
Have you heard of ‘digital hygiene’? What is ‘doxxing’? Do you know what ‘social engineering’ is? Have you ever wondered how after having talked about something with a friend it miraculously appears as an ad on your feed? Why is free-and-open-source software (FOSS) usually a lot more secure than proprietary software? What is a ‘VPN’ or ‘end-to-end encryption’? The answers to all these questions, and many more, are pivotal to maintaining one's safety online. The Human Rights Team is in the process of developing a series of digital security learning modules on a whole range of topics, issues and trends designed to make you aware of vulnerabilities and guide you in maintaining best practices so those cannot be exploited. While we are all no doubt always wiser after the fact, through this training we hope to equip you to be the wiser from the get-go.
Digital security office-hours
The digital security office hours will serve as a platform for us to answer any questions you may have, provide a space to discuss digital security trends globally and or specifically in your region and or simply a space to discuss issues and topics pertaining to technology and human rights and the role of the platform within it. The timetable will be announced in the 3rd quarter of the fiscal year 2021-2022.
Human Rights Partners
The Wikimedia community faces threats from around the world because of their participation in our Movement from malign actors. The increased use of information from Wikimedia projects by other platforms and technologies has meant more parties, often parties of power and authority, are vested in it, thereby seriously affecting the vision of a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. This can – and sometimes does – cause different kinds of problems for Wikimedians who choose to share knowledge freely. In order to better protect our community from these threats and to ensure that our global community has support to minimize the threats and harm they may face, the Human Rights Team is building a global network of human rights partner organizations to address our gaps in local expertise and capacity.
Partner with us!
Are you an organization passionate about defending open-knowledge, freedom of expression and other fundamental human rights? Do you see content gaps on the Wikimedia platform that you would like to fill? Do you see ways in which the Foundation can support you in achieving our common human rights goals? We are always open to collaborating with interested organizations to help support our volunteers and the wider Movement. Much like the work that we do and the community that we support, the partnerships we are hoping to make are vast and varied from legal support to digital training and from threat monitoring to translation. Feel free to reach out to us, we look forward to hearing from you at talktohumanrightswikimedia.org.
Human Rights Interest Group
Many Wikimedia projects strive towards a strict neutral point of view policy in their coverage of subjects, both in terms of the articles that are created and the content, perspectives and sources within these articles. However, this goal is hindered by systemic biases created by the shared social and cultural characteristics of most editors, resulting in an imbalanced coverage of subjects and perspectives on the encyclopedia. One such imbalance presents itself in the field of human rights wherein the amount and diversity of content pertaining to human rights is relatively slim.
Recognising this, the Human Rights Team is currently working in close collaboration with Chapters, User Groups, WikiProjects and individual volunteers on establishing a Human Rights Interest Group. Our primary objective is to emphasize a human rights lens across the platform, which includes both promoting and defending universal rights and freedoms online and offline. We hope to support you to ensure that the human rights concerns of your country and region are expressed on the various projects, heard within the broader Wikimedia community and understood by the Foundation. Additionally, we seek to foster an awareness of human rights when creating content. After all, the freedom of expression does not equate to the freedom of consequences, both for a contributor or someone they may have contributed about. As such, the Team will deliver digital security training, a human rights learning module in regards to its projects, facilitate community events and edit-a-thons, and create a platform for cooperation and dialogue between community members and the Foundation on human rights related issues.
Has this piqued your interest? We welcome any help that we can get in realizing this ambitious endeavor. So, if you too are passionate about human rights and willing to help carry out our objectives, it would be our honor to invite you to be part of this interest group in order to address and mitigate further biases by creating an equitable, global approach to human rights on Wikipedia and beyond.
As we are currently in the early stages of setting up the Human Rights Team and its potential workflows please refer to the established processes of Trust and Safety for your most immediate concerns. If, however, you have any questions, concerns, comments and or suggestions regarding the work we are doing and objectives we are hoping to achieve please reach out to us at talktohumanrightswikimedia.org.