From Iceland — What Are Icelanders Talking About?

What Are Icelanders Talking About?

Published October 11, 2019

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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Iceland’s First Lady Eliza Reid made international headlines with a New York Times op-ed, “I’m a First Lady, and It’s an Incredibly Weird Job”, which offered her frank perspectives on what it is to hold the office. While she has been actively involved in a number of projects, such as the Icelandic Writer’s Retreat, while travelling and advocating for issues of international importance, she notes a pervasive misogyny directed at First Ladies in general. Eliza notes that “no one wants to be judged as her partner’s accessory.” Too right!

It may seem odd that Parliament would craft legislation to let a foreign company operate in Iceland despite it having expressed no interest in doing so, but that’s exactly what’s happening . Minister of Transportation Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson is leading a new bill in Parliament that would allow ride-share service Uber to begin working in Iceland as early as this winter. There are a few interesting points about this. For one, the bill would put conditions and restrictions on Uber drivers that are effectively the same as those for taxi drivers. For another, the sheer volume of taxis in Iceland raises questions about the need for the ride-share service. But most peculiar of all, not even the Minister is aware if Uber even wants to operate in Iceland. We look forward to future legislation allowing for the building of a SpaceX launching station for Mars missions.

Speaking of transport options, electric scooters have taken off in Reykjavík thanks to telecom provider Nova, and within days, you could see tourists and locals alike zipping around the city. While these dockless scooters are by law restricted to sidewalk use, they can travel up to 25KPH, prompting the Icelandic police to advise caution to pedestrians and scooter-ers alike, while issuing fines of up to 20,000 ISK for those using scooters under the influence.

News stories of the hacking of Icelandic companies, sometimes followed by the theft of millions of krónur, seem to pop up on a regular basis. In every instance, the attackers are said to be traced back to foreign operatives looking for any open ports in Icelandic servers. It has now come to light that Icelanders are also involved in these hacks, but the extent of the damage is largely unknown. Most companies tend to not disclose when they have been hacked and robbed, both out of embarrassment and out of the desire not to give the impression that they can be easily cheated. Supervisory authorities are hoping to break this habit in the hopes of creating a more unified security apparatus for Icelandic companies’ servers.

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