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Information Freedom Seeks Asylum in Iceland

February 14, 2010

There is an interesting proposal on the table this Tuesday in the Icelandic parliament that is in sharp contrast to the Australian censorship story we discussed last week.

The Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI) goes before Iceland’s parliament on Tuesday. The idea, to create a “haven for journalism,” comes from the founders of WikiLeaks, a non-profit organization devoted to insulating whistle-blowers and document-leakers from the tentacles of repercussion. The goal is to bundle the best information liberty laws in the world into a single place – Iceland – and to station data centers (notably, powered by Iceland’s unique “renewable energy” sources) in this would-be haven for whistleblowers, journalists, and their sources.

The idea came to Julian Assange and Daniel Schmitt of WikiLeaks as a parody of off-shore banks: small nations who have tailored their laws to the industries they entice. They thought, if bankers have off-shore banks, “what would off-shore publication be?”

They floated the idea on Iceland talk radio and received a very strong positive response. The Icelandic Modern Media Initiative was born.

From The Nieman Journalism Lab, Jonathan Stray:

[The measures are] aimed at making the country an international center for investigative journalism publishing, by passing the strongest combination of source protection, freedom of speech, and libel-tourism prevention laws in the world…The text of the proposal, called the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, is not yet public, but the most detailed evidence comes from a video of a talk by Julian Assange and Daniel Schmitt of WikiLeaks , given at the Chaos Communications Congress hacker conference in Berlin on Dec. 27.

“We could just say we’re taking the source protection laws from Sweden, for example…we could take the First Amendment from the United States, we could take Belgian protection laws for journalists, and we could all pack these together in one bundle, and make it fit for the first jurisdiction that offers the necessities of an information society.”

The influential documents that WikiLeaks has facilitated is on Wikipedia which includes a leak of nearly 500,000 pager messages from 3 a.m. Sept, 11, 2001 to 3 a.m. Sept 12, 2001, which Assange claimed would be interesting to conspiracy theorists as people mention “bombs in the building” and Condoleezza Rice providing stand-down orders. I have not seen any other news reports to substantiate it, and with the 9/11 WikiLeaks archive no longer accessible, there is no way to independently verify that claim. The fact that the archive exists in the first place leaves one wondering how this repository of pager messages were collected and where it was leaked from. It is not clear when the 9/11 Wikileaks will be re-instated as the organization is currently suffering a funding crunch and the pager messages are reportedly 4 terabytes.

It seems to me that, at present, the people at WikiLeaks are at the center of the information revolution afforded by the structure of the Internet.Their journey should be of utmost importance to everyone and I encourage donations as they do not collect coffers from government or corporations.

Anonymity has insulated document-leakers from retribution, however it remains to be seen how the IMMI would counter-act the effect of, for example, the Australian blacklist, which could bar its own citizens from posting links to any of the otherwise-unrestricted information hosted in an Icelandic server farm.

The results of IMMI at Icelandic parliament is only one of two important things  Axiom Today anticipating for Tuesday February 16, 2010.  Also, as previously reported, inner-circle members of the military industrial establishment are throwing a war-room mind game called Cyber ShockWave, this Tuesday, which, I predict, will see no real-world online disruptions, but will simply be a variety of theatrics and bids for your trust in their authority. I will be sure to follow-up on both important stories as soon as details emerge.

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