Iceland's economic downturn is a ”freedom of speech” upturn

Iceland approves bill that turns the recession-plagued island into a "new media heaven"
Kim Andersen
17 June 2010

During recent years, Iceland has suffered from a recession incomparable to that experienced in any other country in Europe. Today, however, the situation is about to change. Not on the financial stage but on the political rights stage. On 16 June, the Icelandic parliament unanimously approved a bill that will create a ”new media haven” on Iceland.

The bill is inspired by a proposal put forward by Wikileaks, an organisation that has lately has come under pressure from the American administration because of classified documents published on their website. A scandal on Iceland also provided the proponents of the bill with ammunition. In 2009, the largest bank gagged the national broadcaster in attempt to silence the truth. Together this animated the Icelandic parliament to approve a bill that will make Iceland a haven for people like the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, but also prominent authors, journalists and the like.

The question is whether this will be an international beacon or a secluded haven of intellectual debate. While one could wish for the former the latter seems more probable. It is possible to block access to server, as BT did with the famous Swedish site, Piratebay. This might be the future for Wikileaks and other websites that ”blow the whistle” a bit too loud. If Wikileaks is shut down then what? While Iceland can provide the legal protection, it cannot provide uncompromisable publishing platforms with unrestricted reach.

Peter Geoghegan: dark money and dirty politics

Democracy is in crisis and unaccountable flows of money are helping to destroy it. Peter Geoghegan’s new book, ‘Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics’, charts how secretive money, lobbying and data has warped our democracy.

How has dark money bought our politics? What can be done to change the system?

Join us for a journey through a shadowy world of dark money and disinformation stretching from Westminster to Washington, and far beyond.

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In conversation:

Peter Geoghegan Dark Money Investigations editor at openDemocracy and the author of ‘Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics’.

Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief, openDemocracy.

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