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Launching a Privacy Policy Built the Wiki Way

We are happy to announce that on April 25, 2014, the Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Trustees approved a new privacy policy. The new privacy policy explains how we collect, use and manage the information of over twenty million registered users and 490 million monthly unique visitors to the Wikimedia projects.

But the policy wouldn’t have been possible without support from users like you. The new privacy policy is the result of a community consultation spanning over eight months.

A need for a change

Early 2013, we recognized that our privacy policy, which hadn’t been updated since 2008, did not address a number of new technologies or provide enough detail to our users about how their information was being handled. But the Wikimedia way is unique — we knew that we could not develop a privacy policy without the help of the very user community the privacy policy is intended to protect. So, we launched an open call for community input on June 18, 2013, to find out what issues mattered to you and what you wanted to see in a new policy.

Armed with that input and mindful of the sensitivities invoked by recent revelations of mass governmental surveillance programs, we created an initial draft proposal for a new privacy policy and opened up a 5.5-month long online discussion.

Wikipedia: built through collaboration.

Perfecting the privacy policy through consultation

Our initial draft of the new privacy policy underwent thorough review by the Wikimedia community and sparked some spirited debate. In fact, the discussion surrounding the privacy policy, data retention guidelines and access to nonpublic information policy[1] totaled over 195,000 words and resulted in over 250 changes to the documents. What emerged was a much stronger policy that reflects the global Wikimedia community’s values.

For more information about the consultation process and how the new policy differs from the old one, please see our previous post.

What happens now?

With the Board’s approval, we will begin a month-long notice period to give everyone another chance to review the new privacy policy. Following the notice period, the policy will officially go into effect.

We thank all those that participated in this open and collaborative process, which resulted in a privacy policy that was truly developed in the wiki way. In that spirit, the new privacy policy is licensed under a free license so that anyone can reuse and build upon it when creating their own privacy policies.

Michelle Paulson, Legal Counsel*
Geoff Brigham, General Counsel

* We would like to express our sincere thanks to all those that made this policy possible — we could not have created this policy without a truly interdepartmental effort and the valuable participation and feedback from the Wikimedia global community. Special thanks goes to James Alexander, Heather Walls, Luis Villa, Roshni Patel, Toby Negrin, Megumi Yukie, Dario Taraborelli, Jorge Vargas and Tiffany Li for their incredible support during this process.

  1. The Access to Nonpublic Information Policy was also approved by the Board of Trustees on April 25, 2014. Please note, however, certain requirements under that policy will only be triggered once we have completed building necessary tools and have given community members impacted by those requirements notice as outlined in the policy.

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