Iceland becomes safe haven for whistle-blowers

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Iceland has passed a law designed to make it a haven for free expression and freedom of information.

The Icelandic Modern Media Initiative  - created in conjunction with Wikileaks - was approved with no opposition. The idea is to create an 'information haven' along the same lines as a tax haven.

"We can create a comprehensive policy and legal framework to protect the free expression needed for investigative journalism and other politically important publishing," says the proposal.

"A legislative package based on these and other protections would attract a wide range of media and human rights organizations that routinely face unjust sanction."

The new law will make the country a safe haven for media companies by protecting the anonymity of journalistic sources, plaing strict limits on pre-publication censorship, and providing immunity for telecommunications and internet providers.

It also exempts Icelandic courts and institutions from enforcing rulings by foreign courts which violate Icelandic law. Any entity that is even partially based in Iceland is protected under the law.

This is a dodgy premise, though, according to Arthur Bright of the Citizen Media Law Project. "The problem is that whatever Iceland does, it can't change the 500-pound gorilla of international media law: the principle that publication happens at the point of download, not the point of upload," he says.