The Icelandic Parliament unanimously passed a proposal recently asking the government to introduce a new legislative regime to protect and strengthen modern freedom of expression, and the free flow of information in Iceland and around the world. The unanimous vote included all government members.
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 it 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 b e changed and improved in 4 ministries. The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture that will have an over all 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 lawyers and organizations such as Wikileaks, who have 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.
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.