Iceland's New Journalistic Protection Laws

I was delighted to see this news in today's Independent:

Iceland rewrites law to create haven for investigative reporting

Iceland has passed a sweeping reform of its media laws that supporters say will make the country an international haven for investigative journalism.

The new package of legislation was passed unanimously at 4am yesterday in one of the final sessions of the Icelandic parliament, the Althingi, before its summer break.

Created with the involvement of the whistleblowing website Wikileaks, it increases protection for anonymous sources, creates new protections from so-called "libel tourism" and makes it much harder to censor stories before they are published.

"It will be the strongest law of its kind anywhere," said Birgitta Jonsdottir, MP for The Movement party and member of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, which first made the proposals. "We're taking the best laws from around the world and putting them into one comprehensive package that will deal with the fact that information doesn't have borders any more."

Independent, 17 June 2010

I guess that passing the law at 4am is partly to do with the fact that it doesn't get dark in Iceland at this time of year, but it is mainly a reflection of how quick on its feet a small, independent country can be. This proposal only really came onto the political agenda in Iceland in February this year. This video is from then:


     Wikileaks and Iceland MPs propose 'journalism haven'
     BBC, 12 February 2010

I think it is a source of great shame that the libel laws in "England and Wales" can be used with draconian effect by those with enough money to make the law work disproportionately for their benefit. What Iceland has done shows how small countries can have an impact on the world stage out of all proportion to their size. And I would like to think that this is exactly the sort of thing that we in Wales would do if we were independent.

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