Iceland’s Parliament votes in favour of legal protection to whistle-blower web sites

On Thursday 17 June, Iceland’s Parliament, the Althing, voted unanimously in favor of a package of legislation aimed at making the country a haven for freedom of expression by offering legal protection to whistle-blower Web sites like WikiLeaks, which helped to craft the proposal.

As noted last February, the proposal, the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, combines in a single piece of legislation provisions from around the world: whistle-blower laws and rules about Internet providers from the United States; source protection laws from Belgium; freedom of information laws from Estonia and Scotland, among others; and New York State’s law to counteract “libel tourism,” the practice of suing in courts, like Britain’s, where journalists have the hardest time prevailing.

It is not yet clear how much help the new legislation will provide to foreign journalists trying to shield themselves behind Icelandic law. As the Nieman Journalism Lab notes:

In his analysis of the proposal — “Fortress Iceland? Probably Not.” — Arthur Bright of the Citizen Media Law Project has noted that in one major test case of cross-border online libel law, “publication” was deemed to occur at the point of download — meaning that serving a controversial page from Iceland won’t keep you from getting sued in other countries. But if nothing else, it would probably prevent your servers from being forcibly shut down.

Meantime, Mr. Assange, one of the leaders of Wikileaks, had told supporters that the site would soon release another video of an American military strike that killed civilians


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