Democracy is evolving, and Iceland is leading the change. As vigorous proponents of radical transparency, freedom of expression and speech, publishing process protections, and rights to privacy, Iceland is developing the first political consensus that comes from the collective intelligence of the people. Through the foundations provided by the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, the country is developing into a safe haven for those working toward international freedom of information. The people of Iceland are developing a culture of collaboration and consensus decision making, and enjoying the benefits of an evolved democracy: transparency and a free press, whistleblower protections, and freedom of speech, expression, privacy, and information.
When economic and social crises threaten the stability of a free society, several options are available to the people. For some, the easy way out of the crisis is to let the government handle the problem. And the easiest way for governments to manage problems is to exert more control. When control is seen as a paternalistic type of affection and concern, a tightening fist can be rationalized or ignored by a population that has abdicated the responsibilities and the work of democracy. When government control is couched in terms of threats to the national security, either from political, military, or financial crises, civil rights, especially rights to a free press and freedom of speech and privacy, are often the first to go.
Iceland didn’t take the easy way out of the 2008 financial crisis. Instead, they empowered the collective voice, experience, and intelligence of the people to lay a new path forward. By crowdsourcing their ideas and legislation, their vision of the future represents the beliefs and values of the nation.
Several important aspects of the legislation and the continuing work of advocating for it are critically important. Unequal access to justice means that for many citizens of a democracy, they cannot access the resources needed to defend themselves. In this climate of inequity, the judicial systems becomes one with the power to punish, a big stick to silence those outside the majority. The threat of action against those without resources can be significant enough to silence free speech.
Source protection and limiting prior restraint are also powerful judicial and legislative protections that are critical to a free press. Coercion by anyone with power and something to hide–a government agency, a financial organization, a publisher or newspaper, a telecommunications agency– means that threats of various kinds can be applied to disrupt the process of a free press. Protecting journalists, bloggers, and media such as newspaper publishers from the threat of these types of action means Iceland has a media that is as close as humans can come to the radical transparency and free press the collective citizenship desires. OrangeWebsite provides several business structures that allow journalists and bloggers this free press protection, including anonymous accounts and a range of payment options, including bitcoin and World Coin.
Whistleblower protections are also a critical part of the Modern Media Initiative. In an evolved democracy, aggressive nationalism and militarism are never used to justify silencing the population. Threats to the nation and national security concerns are not blunt weapons to shut down the press or free speech. And those who bring abuses of power into the open are not tried and jailed for espionage.
Enlightened democracies are seen as places of light and opportunity, freedom, and hope to the people of the world who live under the threat of oppression. That light, and the hope that comes from knowing there are better places in the world, places where people are treated with respect and dignity, where they have the right to voice an opinion, give those who are living in darkness and oppression something to hope for, a place to dream about. For people working in those countries trying to bring about change, the work of enlightened democracies–the legislative and judicial framework–provides a blueprint for changing their own political systems.
When those democracies that have always held the light of hope for the world descend into chaos, and the threat of fascism rises again, with censorship and racism, aggressive militarism and nationalistic rhetoric overtaking the collective voice of a people, those who believe in the basic tenets of democracy are silenced. First the whistleblowers are silenced as threats to national security. Then the press is censored to protect the population. As government control over the national narrative and the human voice of the people tightens like a fist around the throat, freedom of speech and the freedom to dissent is cut off. And the light of hope for the world is extinguished. Enlightened democracies have the power to give that light and hope to the world. They do not exist in isolation, solely for the benefit of their own people. Iceland is working on the evolution of their enlightened democracy, when much of the rest of the world is seeking to consolidate power and control the voice of their people.
The International Modern Media Institute is an advocacy group who are attempting to protect and expand the protections and the radical transparency called for in the original initiative. Closely tied to a political party, the group nevertheless functions as an international watchdog for issues related to freedom of expression, privacy, and a free press. They are advocating an agenda where Iceland serves as a safe haven with the legal and judicial framework to protect freedom of expression to the greatest extent it exists anywhere in the world. OrangeWebsite provides a number of services that directly embody the privacy and freedom in the new legislation, such as access to virtual private and dedicated servers in a country protected by these laws. Services such as these, with Icelandic state protections, are unique in the world. Using the collective power and will of a people to bring about state-sponsored human rights protections is a revolutionary idea–and it is a revolution that is changing the world.