Photo by Nick Allen, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Over the years, the Wikimedia Foundation and Yale Law School have established an ongoing research and educational affiliation and collaboration during which both Yale students and faculty and the Foundation have participated in symposia, presentations, and conferences, hosted by either Yale or Wikimedia. Furthermore, students and new graduates from Yale have held internships and fellowships at Wikimedia and Yale researchers have engaged in collaborative research with Wikimedia.

Given Wikimedia’s mission and interests, one of Wikimedia’s fundamental activities is to directly contribute to the research and education mission of Yale and other institutions of higher education. The ongoing affiliation and collaboration between the parties has benefited both sides by allowing for the advancement of public policy research, the exchange of new ideas about the regulations and laws of online platforms, and mentorship opportunities for promising students and new graduates from Yale to better understand the Wiki-model of knowledge creation.

As a continuation of this affiliation, members of the Wikimedia legal team visited Yale for two events this past spring.

On March 7, Jacob Rogers, an attorney from the Wikimedia Foundation, attended a panel at Yale Law School on addressing the topic of fake news and false information online. The panel brought together a number of academics, news publishers, and online platforms to discuss the nature of the problem and look into proposed solutions. The discussion focused on the complexity of the problem, with falsehoods potentially arising from misunderstandings and honest attempts to get things right in a complex world as well as from intentionally malicious misleading information. One solution discussed was the use of crowdsourcing, and the panelists looked at Wikipedia’s model to try to understand how some crowdsourced projects succeed with motivated, empowered volunteers. The panel also discussed different approaches to automation and the idea of combining automated tools with human review to reach a better result than either can accomplish alone.

On March 21, James Buatti and Zhou Zhou, attorneys at the Wikimedia Foundation, delivered a presentation on the Wikimedia v. NSA lawsuit to the Yale community. The presentation provided background for some of the known U.S. government surveillance programs, information about the history of litigation against these programs, the ongoing status of Wikimedia v. NSA lawsuit, and previewed possible new changes and implications for the government surveillance under the new administration. The Foundation attorneys had an extended discussion with audience members afterwards, who, among other things, expressed appreciation for the presentation’s explanation of the differences and similarities of the various government surveillance programs. The audience also provided their own valuable insights on how surveillance power might be balanced with the need to protect civil liberties within a proper and practical legal and policy framework.

Events like these recent ones at Yale help the Wikimedia Foundation share our unique values and processes with the outside world and build support, by educating prominent members of the legal and policy community, for the causes we believe in and fight for. As such, we look forward to continuing our affiliation and collaboration with Yale for many years to come.

Jacob Rogers, Legal Counsel
Zhou Zhou, Legal Counsel
Wikimedia Foundation

For more information about Wikimedia’s perspective on public policy issues and to stay engaged, please visit the Foundation’s public policy page and join the Wikimedia movement’s mailing list. Academic and research institutions who wish to connect with members of the Wikimedia legal and public policy team about these topics are also welcome to email the team at policy@wikimedia.org.