Iceland Proposes Progressive Media Law with Global Implications

9 Mar 2010

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Iceland has proposed a new law called the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), report Richard Gizbert and Meenakshi Ravi of Al Jazeera.

The proposed law has generated interest amongst journalists, civil rights organizations and media all over the world.

The IMMI aims to bring together some of the most progressive media laws from all over the world to create one holistic law that will position Iceland at the forefront to protect journalists, whistle blowers and their sources from repressive libel laws.

The law was proposed after a news broadcast was stopped last August by an injunction brought against Icleand's national television broadcaster, RUV.

In the midst of the mayhem surrounding the crash of Iceland's financial sector, the country's largest bank, Kaupthing Bank obtained an injunction on a leading RUV story about a document that had been posted on WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks is a website that is used by whistleblowers around the world.

Kaupthing Bank's loan book had been posted on the site, where it is still publicly available, but the bank prevented RUV from telling the public about the leak.

Iceland's public were enraged at being denied this information. And, the political fallout of that moment is what propelled the idea for this new media legislation, says WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The idea behind the IMMI is to protect journalists and whistleblowers through a media super-law that will safeguard media outlets, bloggers, journalists, authors and their sources almost completely in Iceland and to a certain degree in other parts of the world.

The IMMI allows journalists from other parts of the world to access Icelandic computer servers in order to keep their content beyond the reach of repressive governments. By posting content via Iceland's ISPs, journalist's could potentially protect their content from complete censorship.

However, this does not necessarily protect the journalists - the individuals themselves - working in other parts of the world who would still be subject to the laws of the country they live and work in.

Nevertheless, the IMMI is being hailed as a significant step forward. If enacted, it could set the tone for freedom of expression and progressive media legislation globally.

You can find this page online at http://sacsis.org.za/site/article/214.19.

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