October 18, 2012 | Posted in:News
Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Iceland’s Minister of Education, Culture and Science gave a report to Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, on the progress of the parliamentary resolution commonly known as the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, or IMMI. The resolution from 2010 calls for the implementation of the strongest free speech laws drawn from around the globe into Icelandic law.
The report to parliament drew attention to the work currently being done by a steering committee consisting of specialists from ministries, media regulators and from IMMI.
The report details the work of the last two years towards a rigorous and well defined codification of the best practices in transparency, freedom of expression and protections against censorship from around the world. These changes will hold Iceland as an example for people of all nations when striving for more democratic and just principles to embrace in their own societies.
The Minister gave a overview of advances being made by a steering committee appointed by the minister to oversee the work on the project. In particular, Katrín Jakobsdóttir reported on work on revising the Icelandic libel law, which has stood unchanged since 1940 despite massive changes to human rights law, and proposals for a set of whistleblower protections which would include a simplification of confidentiality requirements for public employees. She also mentioned the steering committee’s work towards eliminating data retention and prior restraints.
“This is an immensely important and extensive project,” said Katrín Jakobsdóttir at Alþingi. “Whereas the project is extensive and covers a wide range of issues, the proposed bills are in the subject areas of the Prime Minister and Interior Minister. I hope that these bills will come into parliament this season and I believe that the project is going to continue.”
Skúli Helgason, an MP for the Social Democrat Alliance said during the discussion at Parliament: “This case is important from the perspective of democracy and the protection of public interest, but it is also partly a contribution to the new green employment policy for Iceland because one of the objectives of the proposal is to create a progressive environment for the registration and operation of international media and publishing companies, start-ups, human rights and data center companies in Iceland. Already there is an assessment explicitly stating Iceland’s competitiveness in the operation of data centers. I think this resolution was among the finest parliamentary issues that have been brought forth in this term.”
“The minister’s report shows that this project is advancing,” said Smári McCarthy, executive director of IMMI. “We have spent the last three years working on what is undoubtedly the most comprehensive review of information law in history. It was bound to take some time, but we’re now starting to see the fruits of our labor.”
“This report signifies an important milestone for the work we have been doing for the past two years,” said Birgitta Jónsdóttir, the member of parliament who originally sponsored the proposal, and chairman of IMMI’s board of directors. “It shows that the work is continuing at a steady pace, and that important laws are being prepared and proposed.”
Since work began on IMMI, global events have demonstrated irrefutably that there is a need for the protections proposed in Iceland.