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Wikileaks and Iceland MPs Propose Journalism Haven

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the vikings-of-transparency dept.

Censorship 153

geegel sends word that Iceland could become a journalism haven if a proposal put forward by some Icelandic MPs, aided by Wikileaks, succeeds. Julian Assange, editor of Wikileaks, said that the idea is to "try and reform Iceland's media law to be a very attractive jurisdiction for investigative journalists." The article notes one area in which supporters of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative need to tread carefully: "...the troubles of the financial sector may lead some Icelanders to be sceptical of efforts to transform their country and [one supporter] is aware of the need not to make exaggerated claims." A British opponent of the idea (and supporter of the UK's draconian libel laws) is quoted: "The provisions allowing defendants to counter-sue 'libel tourists' in their home courts could transform the humble Icelander into a legal superman, virtually untouchable abroad for comment written — and uploaded — at home."

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virtually untouchable? (4, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113378)

Eh, "virtually untouchable" is not so bad, really. I'll take that over the British scheme, I think. After all, there's (usually) more effective ways to defend one's self against libel than lawsuits.

Re:virtually untouchable? (3, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113732)

I concur.

Free speech should mean exactly that. You own your mouth, and nobody else should be able to muzzle it under any circumstances (unless you are inside their house or other private domain). Slander/libel laws shouldn't even exist. If you don't like what somebody is saying about you, then use your own mouth to tell those frakkers to "put up (evidence) or shut up".

Re:virtually untouchable? (4, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113848)

Unfortunately, this means that the person with the bigger mouth can just shout louder than the other guy. Especially in the modern atmosphere of mass media, this means that whoever pays more can make their statements heard by everyone.

Saying patently false things about someone that you know are false *should* be a crime, IMO, even if our interpretation of the law has gone too far.

Re:virtually untouchable? (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114152)

>>>Unfortunately, this means that the person with the bigger mouth can just shout louder than the other guy.

Yes true, but when you demand evidence, and one of those guys cannot provide any, then it doesn't matter how loud they shout. It only makes the look like a fool, and then they will be dismissed as whackjobs (or trolls).

Re:virtually untouchable? (4, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114186)

Maybe, but the damage that can be done by lies is often irreparable. Just ask a doctor or teacher who has been accused but acquitted of sexual crimes. The reputation just cannot be repaired, no matter how comprehensive their vindication may be.

Re:virtually untouchable? (3, Informative)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114270)

Apparently you don't understand how the human brain works. If you're not shouting louder than the other guy, people only hear one side, and they remember the accusations. Look in to "Source amnesia." After some time's passed, people won't remember where they heard that someone said "he's probably an ass rapist." Instead, they'll just think "Oh, he's an ass rapist." Even if "he" proves that he's not even got a dick to rape with. So, unfortunately, no, just demanding evidence in your own puny voice is not going to save you from a dedicated smear campaign.

Re:virtually untouchable? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114660)

YES okay, but that's still preferable to the alternative where government (specifically politicians) use slander/libel laws to imprison people they don't like. Just look at Iran right now. Or China in history.

I'd rather take the risk someone might call me an "ass rapist" than saying, "I don't like President Mussolini Junior," and spending five years in Gitmo.

Re:virtually untouchable? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31115638)

You're implying a false dichotomy. There is a whole spectrum of positions on free speech vs. protection from defamation that do not involve either abuses by omnipotent undemocratic governments or letting anyone say anything without consequences, no matter how unfairly damaging to others it might be.

Re:virtually untouchable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31115904)

The dichotomy is not false. If a government has power, that power will eventually be abused. This is currently the case in pretty much all countries that have strong anti-defamation laws.

Re:virtually untouchable? (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31116060)

The UK government is trying to use libel/slander laws to silence its critics?

If it is, then it's not doing it very well.

And the UK is, apparently, notorious for having strong anti-defamation laws.

Re:virtually untouchable? (2, Interesting)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117980)

You don't know history. President Adams used libel laws in the 1790s to jail American newsmen, including Ben Franklin's cousin (who died in prison). President Wilson used both libel and slander laws to imprison anyone who spoke-out against the war, or his administration in general (including suffragette Alice Paul).

You call that a false dichotomy? I call it documented evidence. These laws shouldn't be on the books, because they can be (and were) used by leaders to imprison Americans in violation of their first amendment rights.

Re:virtually untouchable? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31116164)

Yes true, but when you demand evidence, and one of those guys cannot provide any, then it doesn't matter how loud they shout.

It does, because 1,000,000 million people just heard them shout that you're a crook, and 10 out of those heard you demand evidence (and therefore know that none was provided). So now you have 10 people dismissing the bigger-mouthed one as a whackjob, and 9,999,990 people still thinking that you're a crook.

Re:virtually untouchable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31116826)

There are only about 6,000 million people in the world.

Re:virtually untouchable? (3, Insightful)

Nathrael (1251426) | more than 4 years ago | (#31116824)

Yes true, but when you demand evidence, and one of those guys cannot provide any, then it doesn't matter how loud they shout. It only makes the look like a fool, and then they will be dismissed as whackjobs (or trolls).

*coughs*Intelligent Design*coughs*

Re:virtually untouchable? (2, Informative)

psithurism (1642461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117580)

Yes true, but when you demand evidence, and one of those guys cannot provide any, then it doesn't matter how loud they shout. It only makes the look like a fool, and then they will be dismissed as whackjobs (or trolls).

I still know people who don't believe Obama has a birth certificate, because he's actually Kenyan, and/or think he's a Muslim.

Has there been any turn on Fox after they had both those stories were running through their headlines when the evidence was clearly against them?

I also live in a small community where people frequently make up unsupported claims, often with ulterior motives, and get a large following of ignorant people to protest and shout down/up legislation without evidence.

Further, you don't receive chain emails from you family/friends/coworkers? I get them all the time telling me about the latest fatalities from aspartame and how glade products are fire hazards. Sometimes even mundane things like: Did you know?Ohio has no natural lakes! Just to see if I'm paying attention I guess.

I wish your comment was the truth but it isn't in my experience.

Re:virtually untouchable? (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114224)

P.S.

>>>Saying patently false things about someone that you know are false *should* be a crime,

That sounds good in theory and might even work for awhile, until you get yourself some future president who resembles Mao Tse Tung. Said future president will define anything he doesn't like as "false" and imprison you. For example: "The communists killed hundreds in Tianneman Square." "No we didn't. That's libel. Welcome to prison."

You need to write your laws, not just for the present, but also so they cannot be abused by future tyrants. Libel/slander laws can and have been abused by governments to silence citizens.

Re:virtually untouchable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114876)

The problem you're describing is not the law, but the tyrant. Should we also eliminate rape laws because one day an ultra-religious tyrant might come into power and declare that all non-marital sex is statutory rape?

If a tyrant wants to lock up dissidents, he'll find a way to do it no matter what laws are on the books.

Re:virtually untouchable? (3, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 4 years ago | (#31115260)

That sounds good in theory and might even work for awhile, until you get yourself some future president who resembles Mao Tse Tung. Said future president will define anything he doesn't like as "false" and imprison you. For example: "The communists killed hundreds in Tianneman Square." "No we didn't. That's libel. Welcome to prison."

Mussolini, Mao... Do you have any argument that doesn't devolve into scaremongering?

You need to write your laws, not just for the present, but also so they cannot be abused by future tyrants. Libel/slander laws can and have been abused by governments to silence citizens.

A tyrant will simply rewrite/re-interpret the laws to his advantage.

Re:virtually untouchable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31115736)

Mussolini, Mao... Do you have any argument that doesn't devolve into scaremongering?

The argument is that speech restrictions are dangerous. Are we not allowed to learn from history?

A tyrant will simply rewrite/re-interpret the laws to his advantage.

This is why we have checks and balances. The executive can't enforce a law that doesn't exist. The idea is to make it so that a would-be tyrant has to capture all three branches of government before he can actually become a tyrant, not to leave all the tools of oppression in the hands of whoever happens to be the next executive.

Re:virtually untouchable? (1)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117306)

This is why we have checks and balances. The executive can't enforce a law that doesn't exist. The idea is to make it so that a would-be tyrant has to capture all three branches of government before he can actually become a tyrant, not to leave all the tools of oppression in the hands of whoever happens to be the next executive.

I agree with you in principle. If the US is to be used as a guide, however, those checks and balances are fragile. A balance of power is a precarious thing, because once one branch gets a little more power, it will use that power to leverage more power.

Re:virtually untouchable? (2, Insightful)

Reziac (43301) | more than 4 years ago | (#31116500)

That's true, but why provide the ammunition that makes it easier for a potential tyrant to achieve his goals? at least make him work for it!

Re:virtually untouchable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117222)

WTF? Because in the meantime, the rest of the peons in the country get shoved around by baseless accusations that they can't (socially) prevent or stop? We'll deal with the tyrant when we get to the tyrant; until then stop scaremongering people.

Re:virtually untouchable? (2, Insightful)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 4 years ago | (#31118088)

Mussolini, Mao... Do you have any argument that doesn't devolve into scaremongering?

Don't know about him, but I do.

President Adams used libel laws in the 1790s to jail American newsmen, including Ben Franklin's cousin (who died in prison). President Wilson used both libel and slander laws to imprison anyone who spoke-out against the war, or his administration in general (including suffragette Alice Paul). These laws shouldn't be on the books, because they have been used by past leaders to effectively nullify the first amendment during their terms.

Re:virtually untouchable? (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31115758)

That sounds good in theory and might even work for awhile, until you get yourself some future president who resembles Mao Tse Tung. Said future president will define anything he doesn't like as "false" and imprison you.

As is often the case in these discussions, if you reach that stage, you have bigger problems. The correct solution to those problems typically involves a wall, the causes of the problems, a firing squad, and a subsequent overhaul of government by the people as a whole, just as it has done throughout history.

Meanwhile, there is little point discussing any legal system on the assumption that some all-powerful dictator will eventually abuse it. Anyone with that much power can ignore/rewrite the law anyway.

For most places, most of the time, I'd rather have laws that reflect justice in our society than adopt anarchy-by-default.

Re:virtually untouchable? (2, Insightful)

Reziac (43301) | more than 4 years ago | (#31116580)

This cannot be repeated too often:

"You should not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harm it would cause if improperly administered."
-- Lyndon Johnson, 36th President of the U.S.

Re:virtually untouchable? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114580)

Saying patently false things about someone that you know are false *should* be a crime, IMO, even if our interpretation of the law has gone too far.

Well, in Germany, it is a crime. And the judge decides how to interpret law.
Is that that different from US/UK rules?

Re:virtually untouchable? (2, Interesting)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114716)

If you can prove what you said was factual then it is an absolute defense against any slander or libel claim in the US, as I understand it that's not an absolute defense in other countries.

Re:virtually untouchable? (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31115248)

It is the listeners' responsibility to filter out the chaff. Not the speakers'. Filtering what another can hear or see is a big no-no. Slander/libel are too nebulous to be codified by the person who happens to be in change at that moment.

Re:virtually untouchable? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31115944)

> Saying patently false things about someone that you know are false *should* be a crime, IMO, even if our interpretation of the law has gone too far.

It shouldn't be allowed in Iceland even if they go through with the haven thing.

Because if everyone can say anything in Iceland and actually do, most of the world might stop listening, and not just due to censorship, but because of poor signal to noise ratios.

Then the whole thing becomes worth a lot less, or even worthless.

Re:virtually untouchable? (1)

dargaud (518470) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117068)

Saying patently false things about someone that you know are false *should* be a crime, IMO

I wholly agree, be it related to libel, or pundit talk shows that make up 'statistics' on the spot. If you are using public airwave, there should be an obligation not to lie (good faith disclaimer, etc), and get fined or even lose your broadcast license otherwise. I mean, it's a lot more important than seeing half a tit for a split second, no ?

Re:virtually untouchable? (4, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114020)

I concur. Free speech should mean exactly that. You own your mouth, and nobody else should be able to muzzle it under any circumstances (unless you are inside their house or other private domain).

So large companies can station people with bullhorns outside our restaurant to tell people the food inside is poisonous in order to drive you out of business? And The day before the election a news channel can run stories that are complete lies, including saying anything (for example McCain is dead and a vote for him is now going to elect Palin)? And so on the sly I can hire someone to call all the patients of a physician and tell them he's a child molester and rapes his patients in order to drum up business for my competing practice? After all he might hear about it eventually. Can I lie about the ingredients list on food I sell? How about crowded theaters? Is it now legal for me to scream about a fire or guy with a gun in order to start a panic and get people trampled to death?

I disagree with your assertion. Libel and slander and other laws that restrict free speech in the name of the public good are fairly necessary. They serve a purpose. We just need to be very conservative in our changes to these types of laws and in the creation of new laws.

Re:virtually untouchable? (0, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114722)

>>>So large companies can station people with bullhorns outside our restaurant to tell people the food inside is poisonous in order to drive you out of business?
>>>

No but they can do it with pamphlets, and there's not a darn thing you can do about it. Worse - City governments can pass laws that force your restaurant to spend $100,000 complying with onerous regulations (don't let smoke escape from the chimneys, or soundproof the walls, or whatever), and thereby drive you out of business.

The latter happens far more often than the former.

Re:virtually untouchable? (1)

psithurism (1642461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117712)

So large companies can...tell people the food inside is poisonous in order to drive you out of business

City governments can pass...onerous regulations.

The latter happens far more often than the former.

Could it be because we have libel laws?

Re:virtually untouchable? (1)

psithurism (1642461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117724)

actually this case is slander and harassment laws, but whatever.

Re:virtually untouchable? (1)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117348)

And The day before the election a news channel can run stories that are complete lies

You mean they don't?

Re:virtually untouchable? (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114082)

Slander/libel laws shouldn't even exist. If you don't like what somebody is saying about you, then [...] tell those frakkers to "put up (evidence) or shut up".

And that will of course work, right?

If someone keeps calling you a child raping, baby eating monster, they should of course be entitled to do so, and your only recourse should be to say "nu uh!". Especially if the name caller is someone rich enough to say ... buy ads in TV, radio, print and online, so that everyone you know and will come into contact with in the foreseeable future will be constantly reminded that you (name and picture) are a child raping, baby eating monster.

You are right - there should be absolutely no consequences for anyone to claim such things. It should be up to you to convince everyone that you are in fact not a child raping, baby eating monster. And if should be up to you to ensure that everyone knows about this. I mean, it's not like mobs have ever lynched anyone falsely accused of something, especially when there was no evidence backing it up. Right?

Re:virtually untouchable? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114794)

>>>If someone keeps calling you a child raping, baby eating monster, they should of course be entitled to do so, and your only recourse should be to say "nu uh!".

Well having dealt with this in the past (a certain person claimed I was a pedophile because my family goes to topless beaches), I simply responded to his accusation with the same sentence again-and-again. "That's interesting. Please provide evidence to back-up your claim." "You're a pedophile!"
    "That's interesting. Please provide evidence to back-up your claim."

After awhile others joined in and ALSO started demanding evidence. Of course he could not provide any, so he was eventually chased away from the online forum.

You don't always need the Daddy government to help you. You CAN help yourself

Re:virtually untouchable? (3, Insightful)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31115316)

Again, that works if it's a small voice claiming it.

Now throw in a few tens of millions in advertising time, and you have absolutely no way of making that kind of voice go away.

Hey UK, how about you do it like the US? (1)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114282)

Let me explain how libel and slander laws work in the UK. Basically, you don't have to prove squat. You say, "This big meanie said something I don't like. Yes it's true, and it didn't actually cause me any monetary damages, but I don't like it. Make him stop." And if you have enough money, it's very likely the courts will make him stop.

Now, here in the US we do things a little differently. To prove libel or slander you need to prove three things: first, the offending statement has to be false. If someone says something true about you that you don't like, tough. On top of that, the person making the statement must know it is false. Second, the statement has to be malicious. The person making it must have the intent to cause harm, not just inform or amuse. Third, they must actually cause measurable harm. So, if I say, your grandma makes the worst pies in the world, unless your grandma is in the pastry business or enters lots of baking contests, more than likely I haven't actually hurt anything more than her feelings (don't worry, I'm not actually going to say this to your grandma. I'm sure she's a sweet old lady who bakes perfectly nice pies.)

See? That's how you do slander and libel laws so they work as intended. Freedom of speech does not give you the right to falsely and maliciously harm someone else.

Re:Hey UK, how about you do it like the US? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114436)

That's how you do slander and libel laws so they work as intended. Freedom of speech does not give you the right to falsely and maliciously harm someone else.

Ding ding ding!

For laws to have any credibility, they MUST embody the truth. A legal system that refuses to accept the truth is one built on nothing but lies.

Working as intended? (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31116008)

So, if I say, your grandma makes the worst pies in the world, unless your grandma is in the pastry business or enters lots of baking contests, more than likely I haven't actually hurt anything more than her feelings

Quality of life is built on feelings. People have suffered great physical trauma, but recovered to lead happy and fulfilling lives. People have lost every penny they own, but recovered to lead happy and fulfilling lives. People who suffer damage to their reputation, their sense of honour, their self-confidence... these things cause scars for life, and the victims may never fully recover.

If all your law protects against is physical harm or direct financial loss, then your law is a mockery, written in the interests of ease of enforcement rather than of justice. You can't just turn a blind eye to the most serious kind of harm there is and mumble something about getting over it. People don't work like that, and the law shouldn't either.

Re:Working as intended? (2, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31116246)

You misunderstand. In a libel or slander suit in the US, it is up to you to prove to a jury that you were harmed. It is much easier to prove if you can show documented financial harm.

Case one: You are a movie star, you have big box office numbers, someone says you have sex with fish, all of a sudden you can't draw an audience, cut and dried.

Case two: you are some random guy. Someone says you have sex with fish. You've got nothing concrete to show the jury. Maybe they'll side with you, maybe not.

Nobody is turning a blind eye to anything, get it? It's about proof. If anybody could go to a judge and just say, "He hurt my feelings, make him give me money!" and actually get the money, then nobody would have anything resembling free speech.

Now, if Random Guy could show that he suffered some sort of emotional collapse after the fish fucking accusation, and couldn't get out of bed to go to work, he might have a case.

Anyone can claim hurt feelings. Anyone can claim emotional damages. It's very easy to LIE about those kind of things. The US system is not blind to such claims, as you seem to imply, it is just harder to prove, which is fair and just.

To be fair, in the example I give in case one, special rules apply to public figures. It would be fairly easy to claim that I was engaging in satire or parody if I claimed a movie star was a piscisexual.

Re:Working as intended? (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117228)

Anyone can claim hurt feelings. Anyone can claim emotional damages. It's very easy to LIE about those kind of things. The US system is not blind to such claims, as you seem to imply, it is just harder to prove, which is fair and just.

It's easy to make false accusations of rape as well, and relatively few rape cases result in a conviction for similar reasons. Does that mean we should legalise rape, because it's hard to prove lack of consent anyway?

I guess what I'm getting at is that just because harm can't be objectively quantified by reduction to a dollar amount or some similar method, that does not imply that the harm is not real. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and you can acknowledge the reality that someone was hurt without being able to measure how much they were hurt on any objective scale.

How you assign a punishment to fit such a crime is a different question, of course, and I'm not claiming it is easy to ensure a just result in such cases. I am merely claiming that the little word "measurable" you used before makes a lot of difference.

Re:virtually untouchable? (2, Insightful)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114982)

And when a large company claims aspirin cures cancer? and they sell aspirin as a cancer remedy? Thats just free speech. Or when Toyota says they have the best, most reliable gas pedals in the industry.

Re:virtually untouchable? (1)

BradMajors (995624) | more than 4 years ago | (#31115470)

Commodore64_love has been know to have sex with his Commodore 64.

Isn't free speech great!

Re:virtually untouchable? (1)

azenpunk (1080949) | more than 4 years ago | (#31115568)

*sigh*

This is from a US perspective as that is the country i live in.

The freedom of speech is a political right, meaning it prevents the government from dictating your speech or outlawing it. It is intended to protect advocacy of political ideas. It also protects revelation and whistle-blowing. All of these are important to preventing a political system from eventually oppressing a citizenry.

However, there is no reason that one should not be held liable for damages caused through that speech. For instance if i were to state that you murder kittens and molest the elderly, and anyone believed me, you would have legitimate damages caused by me and should have some recourse available to you.

Of course, if it turns out that you in fact do murder kittens and molest the elderly, the damages you face when this is revealed are not caused by my revelation, but by your actions themselves.

All freedoms come with responsibility. If you are advocating a view that would allow one to use his freedoms to interfere with the freedoms of another and cause them harm, then i think there is some fundamental facet of the subject that you misunderstand.

Re:virtually untouchable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31115980)

However, there is no reason that one should not be held liable for damages caused through that speech. For instance if i were to state that you murder kittens and molest the elderly, and anyone believed me, you would have legitimate damages caused by me and should have some recourse available to you.

So here's the problem. Anonymous critic #451483 claims that Toyotas have defective gas pedals, that Scientology is a cult, that coal is destroying the environment and that you murder kittens and molest the elderly. It turns out all of it is true except the last bit. The problem is that if you can find out who the critic is and go after them, so can Scientology.

Yea! (1)

glrotate (300695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113396)

A thieves' den of defamation and invasion of privacy.

Re:Yea! (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#31115004)

You mean Somalia?

Oh, thought you said "A thieves den of Invasion Piracy"

Cool (5, Insightful)

Jawn98685 (687784) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113412)

Get it?
No, seriously, I mean it is cool that the notion of a free press could be so powerful that an entire nation could be moved to enshrine it in law, thereby creating a beacon of truth for the rest of the world, or a thorn in their side, depending on what got posted. [sigh...] I remember when the United States was something like that.

Re:Cool (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113506)

Despite all the chic pessimism, when it comes to free speech laws the US still has a very free press. Not that there aren't several other areas in the Constitution that are under attack, but speech is still free.

Re:Cool (2, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113596)

We have a free press in the sense that there is very little government control over what gets printed. However, in the sense that most print and tv news outlets are owned by major conglomerates who have them present a more-or-less unified message. Clearly, the Internet lowers that barrier to entry and helps create a more even playing field, but on the flip-side of that is the problem of too many cooks in the kitchen, more than a handful of whom are kooks who may be a detriment to your argument by virtue of their alignment with you in any way.

There is likely a balance that can be struck which would be better for all of us (ie, not the people who own the NewsCorps and Time Warners of the world), which would likely be associated with other general reforms such as elimination of the two-party system by establishment of proportional voting rules, etc. But then again, we're not really likely to see that either.

Re:Cool (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113870)

>>>most print and tv news outlets are owned by major conglomerates who have them present a more-or-less unified message.

You forgot about the existence of FOX News.
And the Libertarian News.
And the Limbaugh Letter.
And reason.com.
And so on.

Unified? Hardly. Although the "more government and less individualism is better" viewpoint dominates ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, PBS*..... there is still a lot of variety out there in the free press. You can hear everything from communists to anarchists, if you simply search for them. (Or turn on your AM Radio.)

*
*
* Yes I know that people will object to this comment, but when Obamacare passes I won't be allowed to chose NOT to buy health insurance without getting fined ~$1000. I call that anti-individualism. I will be forced to conform like a paper cutout doll. (Or serf.)

Re:Cool (4, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114102)

Unified across instances per entity. Fox News is part of NewsCorp, which owns also the Wall Street Journal. I think you would be hard-pressed to find much editorial disagreement between Fox Business and the WSJ, for instance.

Also, the fact that you cite web content as a counter-point doesn't actually provide a counter-point, as I addressed that in my initial post -- the internet lowers the barrier to entry, but often times beyond a level which allows for sanity. For instance, neo-nazi groups endorsing in "their press" a candidate such as Ron Paul, which causes unintended negative press for him, plus draws attention to the existence of neo-nazi propaganda sites, both of which are then addressed in the collaborationist media and used to denounce everything from the candidate to free speech on the internet (after all, we can't have "hate speech", now can we?).

However, the fact that I can go on amazon.com and order whatever AK Press productions I want with (apparently) no interference from the man does show that we have more freedom than other countries, or at least that we're let to think that we do.

Frankly, there is really nothing like the subtle tyranny of thought in play in an Enlightenment state. As an "idea nation," one's nationality is defined as adherence to certain basic principles. Thus, if one steps out of the very narrow band of neo-liberalism that's allowed in the US then one is immediately attacked as "un-American," "anti-American," etc, where in a country such as Italy, whether one is a Fascist or a Communist is incidental to their Italian-ness, and thus I would submit that they are allowed more freedom of conscience as their opposition to the State isn't immediate grounds for their excommunication from their nationality.

Re:Cool (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117028)

Well I see your point but disagree. Variety of thought IS Americanism. I may not like the KKK persons, but the fact they have the liberty to exist & speak their minds proves to me that this is still America. Strength from diversity of opinion.

As for Ron Paul, rather than take offense by the nazi endorsement, I'd embrace it as a positive thing. They know that I support the constitution, which means I support freedom of conscience and speech, even for idiots like them. I support minimal government and maximal liberty for the individual.

Re:Cool (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117698)

The issue with Ron Paul and the Nazis, which I use as an example because it actually happened, is that his public support was reduced due to "normal" people finding out, via the collaborationist media, that he was receiving donations as well as public messages of endorsement in neo-nazi circles. Thus, the assumption was, if the Nazis support him, he must be a Nazi.

It has nothing to do with a candidate taking offense that people support him -- I think most candidates will take whatever support they can get, though in certain circumstances I'm sure they wish it were more cover than overt. The point I was raising is that because on the internet the barrier to entry is so low that any douche-bag can come online and say whatever they want to, often times poisoning the well.

That's an example of a candidate being torpedoed by the collaborationist media because of something someone else did, but its on the same principles that the anti-globalization movement suffers from trumped-up media claims of damage and riots during the Seattle WTO protests about 10 years ago. Most of that was b.s., but you would either have to have been there or go looking for a wide variety of sources, not just collaborationist media, to know it.

the illusion of the "free press," most of the bill of rights, the doubly-artificial construct of the "middle class," (doubly artificial because its carved out of urban proletariat, which is itself a byproduct of industrialization and is by no means a natural human condition) etc -- these are all just steam valves to let off pressure on society and are all counter-revolutionary. Especially the construct of the middle class, which is basically just a wide-scale version of picking "house n*****s" from the field hands. You may get better treatment than the rest of your comrades, but at the end of the day you're still under the yolk, just like the Jewish cops in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Re:Cool (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113618)

Except during an election.

Re:Cool (3, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113876)

Careful now: did you check you were in a Free Speech Zone [wikipedia.org] before you wrote that?

Re:Cool (2, Interesting)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31116664)

Careful now: did you check you were in a Free Speech Zone before you wrote that?

Before I wrote that I actually did think up the worst anti-free-speech activity by the government I could think of, and the Free Speech Zone issue is what I came up with. Then I thought how that compares to being dragged through courts in libel actions, and decided that as bad as the FSZ is, in the grand scheme of things it's not really up there on the speech suppression scale.

Re:Cool (1)

fran6gagne (1467469) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113884)

Tell that to Judith Miller [wikipedia.org] !

Re:Cool (1)

Almost-Retired (637760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114130)

No it isn't, not by a hell of a long row of apple trees. If you can't afford the ink, then you aren't going to be heard. The 'media' is so controlling in their quest to get paid for every second of A/V, or square inch of paper, that the only place to be heard is what is often called mom & pop radio in the small towns. Getting a word in edgewise on a radio station with more than a kilowatt of AM, or 3kw ERP of FM, is only done as part of the 'public service' stuff they might do, like running a radio flea market usually called the 'swap shop'. And politics is generally considered as being off topic unless pop has his own agenda and it matches yours.

As for this idea, I think its one that needs to become real. The slanderous postings not-withstanding, and even those tend to get snoped to death if they are in fact slanderous, will either do the job that needs to be done, or fail, and someone suing only gives the bad publicity more ink.

Generally when somebody hollers 'smoke', its because there really is a fire, and it needs to be contained for the public good. If the fire they 'contain' with the ability of this proposed site to read from anyplace on the planet with a connection happens to be your own pet make a billion off of destitute retirees in the image of Bernie Madoff's methods, well, sorry but you're an asshole that needs to be disabled, put your efforts into trading a little sweat for a living instead.

If you got caught fudging global warming data to suit your own agenda, same deal.

Sorta like Johnny Carson and his monologue using shoes and fits. We make own own beds in this world, and one should be careful what you make yours from. If you effectively stole it from others, then it really does seem to be justice when its stolen back from you.

--
Cheers

Re:Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31117666)

Despite all the chic pessimism, when it comes to free speech laws the US still has a very free press. Not that there aren't several other areas in the Constitution that are under attack, but speech is still free.

Is the press really as free as you'd like it to be? The Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index 2009 gives the USA a score of 4.0 and places them at #21 on the list: not bad by any means, far from it, but it's not exactly the #1 spot.

Iceland ranks 9th, BTW, and was #1 in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Re:Cool (2, Interesting)

VShael (62735) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113726)

I remember when the United States was something like that.

I remember when people thought the United States was something like that.
I can't remember it ever being the case though.

Re:Cool (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114640)

About that beacon of truth:
1. Who defines “truth”? The admins? The Icelandic government? You?
2. The US can still bomb the shit out of Iceland in a matter of days.
3. ...
4. FAIL. ;)

I remember when the United States was something like that.

You mean, you remember when you still believed their lies?
Well, there was a time when I believed my government too... ;)

Re:Cool (1)

inviolet (797804) | more than 4 years ago | (#31115830)

No, seriously, I mean it is cool that the notion of a free press could be so powerful that an entire nation could be moved to enshrine it in law, thereby creating a beacon of truth for the rest of the world, or a thorn in their side, depending on what got posted. [sigh...] I remember when the United States was something like that.

It's a trap.

Seriously. Iceland is broke, and this is a get-rich-quick scheme: once you have a reputation for being an irrepressible beacon of truth, you can charge an enormous sum to repress certain truths.

Newspapers do this in a small way, by withholding news articles that are critical of their advertisers. But if Iceland becomes wikileaks, then it's only a matter of months before they start invoicing the guilty parties when a new leak comes up for publishing.

Fantastic! (2, Interesting)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113438)

A British opponent of the idea (and supporter of the UK's draconian libel laws) is quoted: "The provisions allowing defendants to counter-sue 'libel tourists' in their home courts could transform the humble Icelander into a legal superman, virtually untouchable abroad for comment written — and uploaded — at home."

As a US citizen, I'm looking forward to it.

Re:Fantastic! (1)

Gonoff (88518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113580)

It doesn't sound too bad from the UK either. The one problem I see is the possible application of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

How about them making sure it is not just another waf for the rich and powerful to keep the peasants quiet worldwide in case they are countersued in Iceland?

Re:Fantastic! (2, Insightful)

Al Dimond (792444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113772)

Does it matter if you're countersued in Iceland if you just don't go there?

If someone sued me for libel in the UK I wouldn't bother responding -- I've never been there and don't plan on going, so there's really not much their government can do short of trying to get me extradited (seems unlikely for a civil case). As far as the "peasants" are concerned, unless those peasants need to do business in Iceland it probably won't affect them.

Re:Fantastic! (2, Interesting)

Gonoff (88518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114264)

We know now how much banks are international. Could some court in Iceland persuade an Icelandic subsidiary of my own bank to turn over what I "owed" following a court case?
We might not think so, but finance looks very incestuous to me.

Re:Fantastic! (1)

ibwolf (126465) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114292)

If someone sued me for libel in the UK I wouldn't bother responding -- I've never been there and don't plan on going, so there's really not much their government can do short of trying to get me extradited (seems unlikely for a civil case). As far as the "peasants" are concerned, unless those peasants need to do business in Iceland it probably won't affect them.

And you'll never EVER visit the UK? Not even for a flight connection via Heathrow (the largest international airport in the world).

Well, even then you may find that the damages awarded against you in a UK court are actionable in many countries thanks to various treaties. In fact some US states have put in place legislation to prevent those damages being claimed there. Iceland has been considering similar laws after a couple of high profile defamation suits were brought in the UK for comments made in Icelandic and translated (by others) into English.

Talk at 26C3 (2, Informative)

user1003 (816685) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113448)

There has been a very interesting talk [events.ccc.de] about this (and other aspects of WikiLeaks) at 26C3.

Oh noes! (4, Funny)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113452)

But... but... if Iceland becomes a journalism haven, how will people file baseless libel suits in British courts?!! Everyone who says homeopathy and chiropractic are junk sciences will be able to just get away with it!

Re:Oh noes! (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113544)

Considering the US's reaction to Britain's lax libel laws, I have a feeling this won't be a problem that much longer, whether Iceland becomes a journalism haven or not.

Re:Oh noes! (1)

Mr. Tobes (1617419) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113910)

Well, if this move by Iceland helps publicise the issue in the UK then that's no bad thing. The UK libel laws are a joke - on average the cost to fight a case from either side is about 140 times the average in Europe (Somewhere around £500,000 compared to less than £10,000). It's justice only the rich can afford.

If you happen to be British, and would like to do something about it before the US shames/forces our government to do it, you might like to visit http://www.libelreform.org/ and sign the petition there. The key findings of the report they commissioned make a great deal of sense, at least to me.

Re:Oh noes! (4, Interesting)

nanoakron (234907) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113932)

Something that hasn't hit the journalistic radar yet:

Jack Straw MP (UK Justice Secretary) announced in the house this Tuesday that he will be undertaking a serious review of Britain's libel laws in light of the fact that Britain is often viewed as a 'libel haven' (paraphrasing) for overseas corporations.

This won't be likely to result in new legislation before the end of this Parliament (likely to be April-May 2010), but at least it will put the issue on the agenda for the next one.

-Nano.

(Yes, I watch the Parliament channel...)

Re:Oh noes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114240)

(Yes, I watch the Parliament channel...)

Our thoughts and prayers go out to you.

Re:Oh noes! (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114942)

There is actually a parliament channel? Never knew. I find BBC Democracy Live [bbc.co.uk] to be more convenient anyway.

Re:Oh noes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31115878)

There is actually a parliament channel?

Freeview channel 81 [freeview.co.uk] , which is the one just after BBC news (channel 80).

Badly Needed (5, Interesting)

AftanGustur (7715) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113552)

Before the financial crash in Iceland there was only one investigative journalism program in the media called "Kompás" (Icelandic for "Compass")

Of course, after the banks crashed, they started digging and produced a program about the events that led to the crash.
Unfortunately, when the episode was ready, but just before it aired, the media company controlled by "Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson", decided to cancel the Program because of "Financial reasons", even though this was one of the most popular programs in Iceland.

The episode on the events leading up to the bank crash, made by Iceland's best known investigative journalists, has still not been aired.

Re:Badly Needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114196)

....called "Kompás" (Icelandic for "Compass")

You know, as poor as my Icelandic is, I don't think I needed the translation there.

Re:Badly Needed (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 4 years ago | (#31116936)

Right, because all foreign words that look similar to English MUST have a similar meaning as well.

Look up 'patron' in Spanish or French ;-)

Suggestion: Simply Reward Them (1, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113616)

The main goal with the proposal is to task the government with finding ways to strengthen freedoms of expression and information in Iceland, as well as providing strong protections for sources and whistleblowers.

Before you rewrite all your laws and start to upset other countries like the Brits, tossing a half million at them [wikileaks.org] so they can finally come out of questionable status and my links to their site stop returning a 404 [wikileaks.org] .

That'd be a really good start and pretty much pocket change for a government. Wikileaks seemed to be operating just fine where ever their servers were located. Offer them asylum only if they need it.

Even better than that would be an IMMI award given out yearly to the whistleblowingest site out there. Let Cryptome and Wikileaks compete for eyeballs, usability and leaked documents.

Changing your laws will attract journalists to live there but, come on, the journalism industry isn't going to be pulling in huge import revenues for your country as it stands. So maybe the best thing would be to slightly improve the laws and use a little bit of change to encourage the principles the IMMI wants to support. Worry about becoming the Swiss Bank of Information and Dissent later when there's a huge demand for it. The places that need that stuff the most would sooner block all Iceland IP addresses than let you host damning news and evidence of them anyway.

Re:Suggestion: Simply Reward Them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31113874)

The places that need that stuff the most would sooner block all Iceland IP addresses than let you host damning news and evidence of them anyway.

The IP the content is served from is irrelevant... if the PERSON or publisher being sued by a libel plaintiff in the U.K. is domiciled in Iceland, then they would be able to countersue the plaintiff in Iceland.

So the National Enquirer will move its corporate HQ to Iceland.... but itws web servers and publications will still be served up on servers anywhere.

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31113796)

A British opponent of the idea (and supporter of the UK's draconian libel laws) is quoted: "The provisions allowing defendants to counter-sue 'libel tourists' in their home courts could transform the humble Icelander into a legal superman, virtually untouchable abroad for comment written — and uploaded — at home."

That guy sounds like a real douchebag.

Sovereignty needs to be paramount, first (2, Insightful)

lkcl (517947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113824)

The primary issue that this raises is that of Sovereignty: the absolute inviolate right of a Nation to enact its own laws within its own borders.

It is essential that Sovereignty be restored, world-wide. That means that the United States must cease and desist from interfering in and initiating interference in other countries. Such as by terminating the one-way "extradition treaty" which has been abused so badly. Such as by not committing crimes by invading foreign countries without good justification or even any evidence, on "pre-emptive" pretexts.

Re:Sovereignty needs to be paramount, first (0, Troll)

lkcl (517947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114064)

no, dummy, it's not flamebait. _think_ for a second before pressing that -1 moderation. without sovereignty, countries such as the U.S. will think it's ok to walk into Iceland to extradite people, just because someone in the U.S. wants to sue someone based in Iceland.

Sovereignty is IMPORTANT.

Re:Sovereignty needs to be paramount, first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114314)

Yup. Watch the proposed law be enacted, cue lights, camera and ... extraordinary rendition action 3 seconds later.

Re:Sovereignty needs to be paramount, first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31116902)

Your opinion is stupid - flamebait or not. Who sets the borders? Conflict resolution? IMO, your style sovereignty is just giving a bigger body - the UN or an equivalent - the real power. Not only is it an impossible dream, it is a dream - were it achieved - that is nothing short of tyrannical power for those in charge within their accepted borders. I believe in the sovereignty of the individual. That too may be an impossible dream but it is one I could live with were it true. It is something I can support anywhere, anytime.

You grasped at the soap bar of censorship, UK (3, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31113844)

The tighter you gripped, the more it slipped away. The grip is so tight here now that you've dropped the soap.

Prepare for a shafting.

(I have no idea where I was going with this.)

Re:You grasped at the soap bar of censorship, UK (1)

Dr.Altaica (200819) | more than 4 years ago | (#31117132)

(I have no idea where I was going with this.)

I thought It was going to be some zork spoof.....
>

Group rights stronger than individual rights. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31113922)

'Indian people are paedophiles!' = illegal and punishable in the entire Europe as well as the new Icelandic speech haven

'Professor Ramkrishnan Ganesh at the India Institute of Technology is a paedophile!' = legal and protected in the entire Europe as well as the new Icelandic speech haven

It's a brave new world.

Pariah State (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31113936)

Iceland is just out for itself. This is a cynical move that may do more harm than good. In an age of the internet where information is more valuable than gold they're just trying to capture the market for people who want to avoid the downside. This will attract every load mouth and piece of filth in the world, and make Iceland into an even bigger pariah state than its debt default.

That's The Argument Against? (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114046)

A British opponent of the idea (and supporter of the UK's draconian libel laws) is quoted: "The provisions allowing defendants to counter-sue 'libel tourists' in their home courts could transform the humble Icelander into a legal superman, virtually untouchable abroad for comment written -- and uploaded -- at home."

That is supposed to be a persuasive argument against Icelanders passing the law?!? That Icelanders would be less susceptible to being sued abroad under laws they have not enacted and have no reason to be familiar with? That "the humble Icelander" would gain the benefits traditionally associated with sovereignty?

In an attempt to understand what must be some subtle power to this apparently dimwitted rhetoric, let us explore the following hypothetical argument in favor of abstinence:

'Sex is a lot of fun. It is so much fun that it gave rise to the phrase, "[Some other thing] is the most fun you can have with your clothes on." That phrase plays on the common recognition that sex is the most fun you can have, without qualification. It is fantastic, quite literally, on a genetic level. But you should abstain.'

Hmmm, nope, still sounds stupid.

If Iceland wants to reform (0)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114864)

Iceland got a problem, they lets a few individuals of the country run them up a multi billion euro debt that they now ask others to bear.

Now they want even more sympathy, yet in all of this posturing and pleading I have not heard the one thing that might me like them more:

"We rounded up those responsible and killed them". Surely bankrupting a nation is against some kind of law? All you need is one loaded pistol and you will be gaining a LOT of Dutch/British sympathy.

Persuasive Counterargument (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114878)

A British opponent of the idea (and supporter of the UK's draconian libel laws) is quoted: "The provisions allowing defendants to counter-sue 'libel tourists' in their home courts could transform the humble Icelander into a legal superman, virtually untouchable abroad for comment written — and uploaded — at home."

Indeed.

And the downside?

Brain go splodey (1)

http (589131) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114926)

The quote

"The provisions allowing defendants to counter-sue 'libel tourists' in their home courts could transform the humble Icelander into a legal superman, virtually untouchable abroad for comment written -- and uploaded -- at home."

shows a truly startling ignorance. If some British prat decides to start badmouthing me (or some other Canadian) in England, I'm trying to imagine what possible train of thought would lead them to think that if I was going to sue them, I'd sue them here, where the alleged offense didn't even occur?

Sovereignty, it's a beautiful thing. If I kill and saute small children here (mmm, peanut oil), I'm going to trial here. Elsewhere, the most anyone can expect to happen to me is extradition (a diplomatic cordiality) and a covert police beating or two (human nature being what it is) or just a plain ol' lynching (in a perfect world).

Speechpocalypse 2010! (2, Insightful)

RomulusNR (29439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31115314)

could transform the humble Icelander into a legal superman, virtually untouchable abroad for comments written

It's a word! It's a claim! No, it's FreeSpeechMan!

Whatever will we do when Iceland is overrun with people with the power to say whatever they want?

Freedom Of Speech -- It's Scary!

try TO reform (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#31115646)

"I'm going to try TO teach you decent grammar."

It's not two separate actions. "And" would make sense in a case like, "I'm going to sing and dance".

A polite reminder. (1)

chrizlax (1584427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31116020)

This may be somewhat offtopic, but Wikileaks [wikileaks.org] is still desperately in need of donations.
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