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Thread: Iceland Plans Future As Global Haven for Freedom of Speech

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    Iceland Plans Future As Global Haven for Freedom of Speech

    Iceland intends to become a bastion for global press freedom under a package of laws proposed by opposition MPs to defend freedom of speech, and protect sources and fight libel tourism.

    With the help of Wikileaks, the online whistleblowing site, the MPs have launched the Icelandic Modern Media Intiative, with the goal of turning the country into a global haven for investigative journalism.

    The proposal, which has widespread backing among Iceland's 51 MPs, is scheduled to come before the Althingi, Iceland's parliament, next Tuesday, in the first step towards turning the idea into law.

    "It is a good project for political change," said Róbert Marshall, a member of the ruling Social Democratic Alliance party. "We have been through a difficult period and this is an initiative that can unite the whole political scene."

    As a former journalist Marshall is keen on the creation of the Icelandic Prize for Freedom of Expression. A haven for free expression would, he said, help counter the growing practice of libel tourism. British courts in particular, have become a favoured destination for complainants seeking to take advantage of the UK's plaintiff-friendly libel laws. The House of Lords recently established a government panel to look into the possibility of amending its laws to make it tougher for foreigners to bring defamation suits in Britain, amid fears that current British law was having a "chilling effect" on freedom of expression.

    With a population of just 320,000, Iceland's ambition to transform itself from a country heavily dependent upon fishing into a financial powerhouse, went up in smoke after the 2008 credit crunch. The failure of Landsbanki and the bailout of its online savings bank, Icesave, left Icelanders picking up the tab after the government had to find funds to repay creditors in Britain and the Netherlands.

    The new legislation has won support from Julian Assange and Daniel Schmitt, the co-founders of the Wikileaks website.

    Assange wrote in an email from Iceland last week: "I have been [here] the past few weeks advising parliamentarians here on a cross-party proposal to turn Iceland into an international 'journalism haven' – a jursidiction designed to attract organisations into publishing online from Iceland, by adopting the strongest press and source protection laws from around the world."

    Assange said that in his role as Wikileaks editor, he had been involved in fending off many legal attacks. "We've become good at it, and never lost a case, or a source, but we can't expect everyone to go through the extraordinary efforts what we do. Large newspapers are routinely censored by legal costs. It is time this stopped. It is time a country said, enough is enough, justice must be seen, history must be preserved, and we will give shelter from the storm."

    Wikileaks, which publishes anonymous submissions and leaks of sensitive documents while attempting to protect the identity of whistleblowers, has currently suspended operations, other than the submission of material, because of financial problems. The website says it will resume once operational costs have been covered.

    When the Guardian was prevented from publishing documents on the alleged dumping of 400 tonnes of toxic waste on behalf of the global commodities trader Trafigura because of a super-injunction, the material ended up on Wikileaks days later.

    The site played a role in Iceland's financial crisis last summer when a national TV broadcaster was blocked from revealing a list of creditors in the country's banking debacle. The broadcaster ran the url for the Wikileaks disclosure instead.

    Following on from that brouhaha, Assange and Schmitt went to Iceland early December to discuss their idea for a journalism publishing haven on a talk show, then in a more detailed presentation at Reykjavík University, according to Jonathan Stray, a blogger for the Nieman Journalism Lab.

    Birgitta Jónsdóttir, of The Movement, a political party with three MPs, is confident the measure will become law. "From what I have experienced from discussions with MPs from all the different parties, there is incredible goodwill," she told the BBC.

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    It would be a privilege for someone like me to live in Iceland The thing is that our opponents hate freedom of speech, and will do everything in their power (screaming "racism") to try and stop Iceland from accomplishing this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edoric View Post
    It would be a privilege for someone like me to live in Iceland
    I'm not sure it is such a great idea. It would be a privilege to all of us, but even a few thousand migrants would disturb the ethnic and racial make-up of Iceland.

    As I said often, the 8,000 Poles that Iceland received since 2004 are responsible for a higher proportion of the population than the approx. 1,000,000 who went to the UK. Projected onto the US we'd be talking some 8 million migrants in less than ten years!

    Whilst Germanics are less removed than West Slavs, a mass migration of non-Icelandic Germanics would still destroy Iceland and Icelandic, something which cannot be our goal.

    We are better off supporting this kindred country from afar than to move there physically.

    The thing is that our opponents hate freedom of speech, and will do everything in their power (screaming "racism") to try and stop Iceland from accomplishing this.
    Iceland is different, and has been different. Otherwise you could hardly explain how - for instance - linguistic purism, elsewhere oft seen as "backwards Nationalism" by the left, is embraced as a policy by both left wing and right wing politicians in Iceland (I'd be curious if this is still so as the research I was consulting is 6 resp. over 30 years old).

    This is actually one of the many reasons why Iceland mustn't join the EU. The EU would rule that everything conform to their ideas. Icelanders are not likely to understand much of their reasoning, but would be "too small" to complain. Icelanders don't complain much anyway, complaining is not their mentality.
    -In kalte Schatten versunken... /Germaniens Volk erstarrt / Gefroren von Lügen / In denen die Welt verharrt-
    -Die alte Seele trauernd und verlassen / Verblassend in einer erklärbaren Welt / Schwebend in einem Dunst der Wehmut / Ein Schrei der nur unmerklich gellt-
    -Auch ich verspüre Demut / Vor dem alten Geiste der Ahnen / Wird es mir vergönnt sein / Gen Walhalla aufzufahren?-

    (Heimdalls Wacht, In kalte Schatten versunken, stanzas 4-6)

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