On 28 August 2019, an international media law conference took place in the University of Akureyri (Háskólinn á Akureyri) that is one of partner universities of the University of Muenster. Prof. Dr. Thomas Hoeren from the ITM organized this conference.
On June 16, 2010, Parliament passed a parliamentary resolution no. 23/138 proclaiming Iceland creates a decisive legal position regarding the protection of freedom of expression and information. The Parliament instructed the Government to seek ways to strengthen freedom of expression, freedom of information, disclosure and freedom of publication, and for this purpose, among other things, an audit of the legal environment so that it could be delimited and prepared for the necessary legislative changes or new legislation. On March 16, 2018, the Prime Minister appointed a committee on legislation reform in the field of freedom of expression, media and information freedom, which was, among other things, entrusted with reviewing the work of the above-mentioned steering committee and submitting legislative proposals on specific issues. In addition, the committee was instructed to evaluate „any other legislative changes that may be desirable in the field of freedom of expression, media and information“.
This conference dealt with the nine bills on media regulation up to now proposed to the prime minister and the parliament in 2019. These bills are based on the idea of the International Modern Media Institute (IMMI) and will change the future situation of media in Iceland.
Oddur Þorri Viðarsson, legal adviser of the Prime Minister, first gave a broad overview on the different statutes and bills i.e on whistleblowing, liability of host providers, data retention or hate speech . Then, Elfa Ýr Gylfadóttir (Director of the Media Commission) reflected on the impact of these bills for the work of the Icelandic media commission, especially regarding the problematic provisions on hate speech. Eyrún Eyþórsdóttir (Assistant Professor in Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Akureyri) explained the different vague terms of the hate speech regulations and the inefficiency of national regulations on this topic. Birgitta Jónsdóttir (Chairperson of the International Modern Media Institute) described the past, the presence and the future of new Icelandic media laws while Birgir Guðmundsson (Associate Professor in Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Akureyri) consider the consequences of the nine statutes bills for every day journalism. Markus Meckl (Assistant Professor in Modern Studies and Media Studies, University of Akureyri) finished this conference referring to free speech and the challenge of media regulation. The participants discussed very extensively on the issues from academic and political points of view.
The ITM would like to thank the University of Akureyri for this vivid and high-level conference .