On June 16th the Icelandic Parliament unanimously passed a proposal
tasking the government to intoduce a new legislative regime to protect
and strengthen modern freedom of expression, and the free flow of
information in Iceland and around the world. There is full government
support for the initiative and its objectives.
Birgitta Jonsdottir, the chief sponsor in parliament of the IMMI
proposal said: "Iceland will become the inverse of a tax haven; by
offering journalists and publishers some of the most powerful
protections for free speech and investigative journalism in the world.
Tax havens aim is to make everything opaque. Our aim is to make
everything transparent." she said.
Highlights from the proposal:
* the Icelandic Prize for Freedom of Expression
* Protection from "libel tourism" and other extrajudicial abuses
* Protection of intermediaries (internet service providers)
* Statute of limitations on publishing liabilities
* Virtual limited liability companies
* Whistle-blower protections
* Source protection
* Source-journalist communications protection
* Limiting prior restraint
* Process protections
* Ultra-modern Freedom of Information Act
Because of the complexity of the legislative changes required, the final
legislation will not pass through Parliament at the same date, at least
13 laws need to be changed and improved in 4 ministries. The Ministry of
Education, Science and Culture that will have an overall responsibility
of implementing the laws.
Estimated time for the entire IMMI package to be completed is about a
year. The creators of the IMMI hope by Iceland's bold steps in the
direction of creating a haven for freedom of information, speech and
expression, that it will inspire other nations to follow suit by
strengthening their own laws in favor of the fundamental cornerstones
that are the base of democracies and thwart the trending of gagging,
legal harassment and destruction of historical records.
This proposal was created by international collaboration of activists,
lawyers, politicians and organizations, including the Icelandic Digital
Freedoms Society, The Sunshine Press (Wikileaks) and Index on
Censorship. The group of people involved share a comprehensive
understanding about how the current status of affairs are in our world
in regard of serious attacks on freedom of information and expression,
and possess a vast understanding of the legal measures that have been
employed to counteract these attacks and how they can be applied.
The Icelandic Modern Media Initiative is based on turning the tax-haven
concept on its head. Instead of pulling together asset hiding and
secrecy laws from around the world in order to shelter corruption and
financial crime, the IMMI pulls together the best transparency enabling
legislation, to create a stronghold for investigative journalists,
internet publishers, transparency watchdogs and the public.
The global support for the IMMI underlines the need for a robust
environment that supports the world's best journalism and the activities
of transparency groups. The flow of information has no borders and most
of the media is moving to the Internet. That is why the time has come
for a modern legislative regime that can promote and defend global
freedom of expression, in principle and in practice.