The Debates On Monday #5 —The Forecast
It’s another Monday and time to review last week’s debates. Briefly. In short, people kept debating that milk-thing. The dairy mafia. Some like it, while, as tends to be the case with protected businesses, others don’t. Let’s move on.
Let us move on to an upcoming debate, because … there’s ISIS. Or ISIL or IS. On the contrary to MS, no inhabitant of Iceland has been heard voicing any sort of support for the ruthless wannabe state. The militant group was not known to have any connection to Iceland until last Friday, when Pirate MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir pointed out that ISIS ran its website on an Icelandic URL, somethinglikethis.is.
The tweet set in motion a seemingly chaotic chain of reaction: First, Advania, the part-publicly owned IT service provider, the host behind the front-server Thor Data Center, announced that it could not simply pull the plug on the website without a prior demand from authorities. The manager of ISNIC, the company which handles the registration of all Icelandic domains, explained in an interview that ISNIC would not take any action without a court order. Meanwhile, RÚV reported that the Interior Ministry had started an investigation.
On Saturday, then, the host did take down the website, which was replaced with the ISIS flag and a short message, declaring hope that it would be up again soon. And indeed, on Sunday the website reappeared for a little while, until ISNIC took unprecedented action, that same afternoon, and removed the URL registration completely. There is now no such thing as whatusedtobetheirwebsite.is.
The forced closure was accompanied by an announcement, where the board of ISNIC referred to their terms and conditions, in which a license owner is declared responsible for the legality of a website’s content. The board also noted that “never before has ISNIC suspended a domain on grounds of a website’s content”.
Since these events unfolded over the weekend, the debate hasn’t really set off yet. But it almost certainly will. Some people have already taken their positions through statuses and comments on Facebook. On the one hand there are those demanding principled action, who reason that any limits on the freedom of expression must be explicitly based on clear legal grounds. With no sympathy for the acts, goals or ideology of ISIS, as they find themselves forced to note, some have nonetheless expressed worries over the fact that no legal process took place before the decision, nor has the board of ISNIC referred to any particular part of the website’s content as strictly illegal. They readily admit that hate-speech may very likely have been broadcast through the website, but that this has neither been demonstrated, nor given due process. The decision has even been labelled as ‘racist’, presumably since other armies and their murderous acts seem to be widely supported online without corresponding consequences. On the other hand, there are those who ask: who cares about strict legality when confronted by medieval evil?