Iceland’s economy has been ravaged by the international financial crisis. Rage against corruption sparked protests. Iceland's legislature is now trying to resurrect their economy by ensuring that citizens will have free speech rights that will spur economic growth. On February 16 members of the Icelandic Parliament proposed a bill which could make Iceland a “journalist haven.” It would also provide protections for whistleblowers and other sources who expose fraud. Members of Parliament are obviously keen to the role fraud played in the current crisis. National Public Radio reports on the leadership of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI) in calling for a slew of reforms.
IMMI is pushing for strong source and whistleblower protection, communications protections, strict limits on prior restraint and libel, tourism protection and reinvention of that country’s Freedom of Information Act. This legislation respects the work of Wikileaks, the online whistleblowing site which became a key source of information about the causes of Iceland’s financial crisis. Such laws would provide substantive incentives for whistleblowers to come forward, deterring corruption especially in the banking and financial sectors. “It is hard to imagine a better resurrection for a country that has been devastated by financial corruption than to turn to facilitating transparency and justice into a business model,” IMMI states. Hopefully this bill will provide a model for other legislatures, showing them that they can protect their economy from financial corruption by protecting their whistleblowers.
Intern Quinn McCall contributed to this blog entry.