If all goes well, Iceland may be about to make history. No, I don’t mean the refusal of the populace to get saddled with Icesave bank’s $5 billion debt. Rather, I’m referring to the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative [IMMI], which combines the world’s best legislation to protect press and information freedom into one press freedom bill for Iceland.
IMMI attempts to tip the world balance toward press freedom by setting up Iceland as a Mecca of press and information freedom. Further, Iceland’s actions would affect press freedoms elsewhere. If the IMMI passes, Iceland’s internet servers would become available to reporters and bloggers around the world. These servers could hold documents and reports that governments or corporations are attempting to suppress.
Attempts to suppress free expression in other countries would then be afoul of Icelandic laws, providing reporters and other information providers with leverage in their own countries. They could argue that specific efforts to suppress information, such as demands for revealing confidential sources, would place the reporter afoul of Icelandic law. Some courts may respect this argument. In other cases, one could get those trying to suppress information to back off by threatening to sue them in Iceland, thus making suppression very expensive.
It was a bank’s effort last summer to suppress Icelandic television reporting on a document leaked to Wikileaks — the internet haven for leaked documents — regarding the financial dealings of the bank that sparked the IMMI. Icelanders were outraged that their television station was enjoined from reporting on the document that was freely available on the web.
IMMI was introduced by 19 parliamentary representatives from all parties in parliament. It will be voted on in April or May, 2010. Passage will constitute one of the most important blows for freedom anywhere in years. It will also be a rare rebuke to the growing power of corporations and governments to restrict information flow world-wide.
Aljazeera reports on this magnificent effort. It includes an interview with Julien Assange, editor of Wikileaks:
[BTW, please go contribute to keep Wikileaks alive.]
March 8th, 2010