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The Media Censorship

Censorship Struggle Underway In Iceland 251

jon jonson writes "Information from the collapsed Icelandic bank Kaupthing has been leaked to WikiLeaks, revealing billions in insider loans, and the bank has been working day and night to censor the information contained in the document. Last night at 6:55pm GMT, they served an injunction against the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, five minutes before the 7pm news was due to be aired. The TV station just displayed the WikiLeaks URL instead. They've also injuncted Iceland's national radio, banning all discussion about the contents of the document, and they are actively trying to censor the rest of the Icelandic media along with WikiLeaks."
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Censorship Struggle Underway In Iceland

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  • Re:Interesting (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 02, 2009 @01:26PM (#28918161)

    You must be new here.
    There is a name for this phenomenon already, it's called the Streisand Effect [].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 02, 2009 @01:38PM (#28918261)

    Exista == Kaupthing
    Landic == Gaumur == Baugur == Glitnir Bank
    Stodir = FL Group = Baugur = Glitnir Bank

    etc. etc. etc.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 02, 2009 @01:57PM (#28918393)

    * Main Entry: 2censor
            * Function: transitive verb
            * Inflected Form(s): censored; censoring \sen(t)-s-ri, sen(t)s-ri\
            * Date: 1882

    : to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable ; also : to suppress or delete as objectionable

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @01:57PM (#28918397)

    If a company tries to flex its muscle to influence lawmakers, it is. Indirect, but still.

  • injuncted? (Score:5, Informative)

    by belmolis ( 702863 ) <billposer AT alum DOT mit DOT edu> on Sunday August 02, 2009 @01:59PM (#28918403) Homepage

    There's no such word as injuncted. "to issue an injunction" is to "enjoin", so the form needed here is enjoined.

  • by Sir_Lewk ( 967686 ) <sirlewk@gmail. c o m> on Sunday August 02, 2009 @02:04PM (#28918445)

    Function: noun
    1 a: the institution, system, or practice of censoring b: the actions or practices of censors ; especially : censorial control exercised repressively []

    Function: transitive verb
    to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable ; also : to suppress or delete as objectionable []

    What part of those definitions require that governments be involved again?

    And no, just because it doesn't fit your needlessly restricted definition of censorship doesn't mean that it isn't censorship.

  • by aricusmaximus ( 300760 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @02:12PM (#28918509)

    Per the cease and desist order [], it appears that the lawyers on behalf of Kraupthing are doing their job.

    The laws themselves appear to be there to protect the client's confidential information. Paraphrasing (IANAL, IANAL, IANAL!) they are:

    58. Banks are not suppose to disclose their customer's financial information.
    59. Exception #1 - if there is a risk to a parent company
    60. Exception #2 - if the customer(s) say it is okay to disclose the information.

    So basically the bank and the bank lawyers are doing the job they are legally obligated to do on behalf of their customers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 02, 2009 @02:18PM (#28918561)

    Like most wikileaks documents, I've found it nearly impossible to verify the high level claim (insider trading) off the information provided.

    Could you at least read the article summary?

    Insider trading is completely different from insider loans (which is what was in the summary).

    Insider trading is when people with secret information about a company trade in its stock without filing the required disclosure forms. It's to protect investors so that all investors (in theory) have access to the same information to make buy/sell decisions.

    Insider loans is when you give a secret loan on very favorable terms to management, directors, favored clients, etc. For example, senior management at the bank might want to give a million dollar bonus to senior management, even if they don't deserve it. A bonus would look bad in the press or to the shareholders, so instead you make a loan for the same amount at very low interest rates (and the interest payments can be deferred for a long time). On paper, the loan is an asset.

  • by pingveno ( 708857 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @02:48PM (#28918777)

    In this case, one of the threatening letters explicitly said:

    These are highly sensitive confidential information from Kaupthings bank hf. loan book regarding the banks clients subject to bank secrecy in Iceland.

    I take this to mean that the documents are legit.

  • by unfasten ( 1335957 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @02:52PM (#28918817)

    It was 500 billion in Icelandic currency (krona), not 500 billion euro or USD.

    According to

    500,000,000,000.00 ISK = 3,904,722,881.3900 USD

    However, the wikileaks summary says "45 million to 1250 million euros". I haven't read the post that the GP links, except to check the currency type, to find out where it gets the 500 billion number.

  • by Idarubicin ( 579475 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @02:58PM (#28918857) Journal

    However 500BN of assets is not proportional to the size of the Icelandic real economy - it is not plausible that the citizens could have lost such amount.

    The blog posting contains numbers on the order of 300 billion, not 500 billion -- and those are Icelandic crowns (ISK), not euros or dollars. That puts the total at about 2.3 billion U.S. dollars.

    Given that Iceland's population is only about 320 thousand people that's still a pretty massive hit to their economy (call it 7000 USD per capita), but not totally implausible (particularly for a heavily leveraged state-controlled bank).

  • by BlueStrat ( 756137 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @03:05PM (#28918907)

    The banks unable to pay back (...the TARP funds...) end up being owned by the feds anyway, and then the books are wide open.

    Perhaps you're thinking about some other country? The US government is anything but transparent, notwithstanding any "Hope & Change" rhetoric to the contrary. It took an FOIA request and months to even be allowed to see the Air Force One Manhattan fly-over photos that everyone knew existed.

    The chances of the books being opened would be particularly slim if the bank(s) end up being owned by the Federal Reserve. I know that politicians are currently making noise about publicly auditing the Fed, but that's all it will end up being...noise to placate the proles. Unless politicians suddenly start finding themselves losing elections en masse and/or finding themselves at the working end of pitchforks & shotguns.


  • by calmofthestorm ( 1344385 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @03:27PM (#28919073)

    I'm an American so this rule doesn't apply (national security is a euphemism for "because I said so, that's why; questioning the HSA is Counterfreedomary!")...but given the history of the sort of people who censor WikiLeaks I have to question whether or not I trust anyone who does.

  • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @03:44PM (#28919203) Journal

    Ya, wikileaks rocks. I think this underscores the importance of enshrining freedom of the press too.
    Reply to This

    More to the point, this completely demonstrates the importance of applying "freedom of the press" to new media.

  • by Paladeen ( 8688 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @04:28PM (#28919543)

    In this context, it is important to distinguish between the "State" and the "Government." If you were arrested for drunk driving by an ordinary policeman, you would hardly say that the Government was arresting you.

  • by wytcld ( 179112 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @04:50PM (#28919745) Homepage

    Your nation's not secure if everyone's laughing at your leaders, especially if those laughing are thinking "With buffoons like that coordinating their defense, let's invade!"

    Consider yourself warned, Iceland.

  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @05:47PM (#28920231) Homepage

    Here are the MD5 checksums I calculated for various downloads:

    The difference impacts the rendering of the document beginning on page 16. It appears to have HTTP headers inserted into the file. The same difference is seen across these download programs: firefox, lynx, wget. There may be a bad replication to that site. Maybe they used a bad HTTP client.

  • by FrankDrebin ( 238464 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @06:12PM (#28920385) Homepage

    Iceland is a close-knit society. The anger there is fueled by a sense of betrayal that people from big heterogeneous countries can't fully appreciate.

    True: the population of Iceland about the same number as the student enrolment at the University of Buenos Aires.

  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @08:25PM (#28921223) Homepage

    Iceland was under "custody" shortly after the Nazis invaded Denmark during WW2, until the chose to become independent.

  • by infinitelink ( 963279 ) * on Sunday August 02, 2009 @09:12PM (#28921541) Homepage Journal
    It's worth noting that the bailouts for banks became necessary due to the government (ahem, the current ruling party in fact, ahem) ordering them through legislation to give high risk loans for houses; those kinds of loans are meant for enterprise, i.e. starting businesses, not for buying personal houses; they decided to examine loan records and from it they 'felt' there was a disproportionately small representation of loans to certain demographics, particularly minorities (i.e. potential voters), and forced a percentage of loans to be so made, as well as set-up quasiprivate (federal) lending-control institutions that conveniently fed money back into their own campaign covers; the catastrophe arising from 'bank' mismanagement was congresses fault, particularly the firggin' dems who decided force loans to be made to those who's financial data demonstrated they couldn't afford the loans, and the institutions they set-up to route more money to that cause. The global 'crisis' was set-off by the fact that the mortgages that were in those (rather BRILLIANT) packages, each consisting of potentially thousands to millions of little slices of mortgages to probabilistically reduce risk, were of this sub-prime type; to top it off they all (both parties) decided to over-relax lending regulations to encourage this market even more, such that an entire industry just to carry out their wishes (and make a lot of dough) popped-up. The traditional banks aren't typically into this sort of thing, yet they had no choice about it: they had a gun to their heads. There was one bank, strangely, that's now rather notable because of this, that somehow did resist, did not get murdered by the fairness-police pretending to play government for it, and they're now in a perky and grand situation. I've forgotten the name, incidentally, and if anybody here recognizes it (or that of a similar institution similar), let me know.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 02, 2009 @11:02PM (#28922255)

    Keep in mind that we're talking a bank here, [...], whose proper management (or otherwise) is of significant importance to the lives of millions of ordinary people.

    Hundreds of thousands, not millions. This is Iceland we're talking about.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @11:47PM (#28922641)

    WaMu (failed completely), Citigroup and Bank of America (effectively insolvent absent direct government investment). And still, nobodys talking.

    We've injected capital into at least a dozen major banks through the TARP program. And, although these institutions have claimed that their capital margins were damaged by 'bad paper' and they were unable to make loans, they have refused to open their books to regulators (the Fed doesn't count as a regulator. It is owned by its member banks) to show them the magnitude and type of this bad paper.

    The banks' portfolio of mortgage CDOs were (supposedly) insured by AIG's CDS's. When AIG appeared to be illiquid, one proposal was to have the gov't issue banks its own guarantees to replace the (useless) AIG policies. Possibly by swapping bundles of CDOs along with their covering CDSs for Treasury notes. But the banks refused to divulge what sort of CDS paper they had on their books. So, the government was forced to prop up AIG. Problem: About 80% of AIGs CDS policies were sold to speculators. That is; people who had no insurable interest in any mortgage paper, but were just buying said paper as a gamble*. So we were forced to bail out 4 speculators for every one bank we rescued.

    *It wasn't that many years ago that such speculation (buying insurance policies against people or property for which one has no insurable interest) was racketeering and would earn said 'investors' a quick trip to a federal penitentiary. This was one racket that the mob engaged in. Until Congress made it legal.

  • by QuestionsNotAnswers ( 723120 ) on Monday August 03, 2009 @01:58AM (#28923439)

    Iceland is a close-knit society. The anger there is fueled by a sense of betrayal that people from big heterogeneous countries can't fully appreciate.

    New Zealand is also a small country and the fact that we all know each helps keep everyone honest. Many of us are only one or two steps removed from anyone in power, so abuses of power seem to be kept under control. Rich politicians can't deny poverty, because usually there are multiple people in their extended family getting welfare support.

    I think the fraudsters will be dealt with - because in Iceland people can actually personally do something to affect the fraudsters - unlike a larger country where action is usually impotent.

  • by Exception Duck ( 1524809 ) on Monday August 03, 2009 @02:03AM (#28923487) Homepage Journal

    So close-knit in fact that I know some of the current ministers, and they all oppose this line of action by the current CEO of Kaupthing, and my prediction is that he has maybe 2-3 months left in office. They will let this slide, then find some other reason to let him go. He's totally done for. This man is exceptionally stupid to think that he can stop Wikileaks from making the information available. The only defence he can possibly have, is if he was legally bound to try to stop it. Which is probably not the case, but it's coming up in court in Iceland this week. They got the ban for one week, and have to make a pretty strong case if they are going to upheld it.

    I don't think it will happen.
    Some people predict a revelution in Iceland if that happens.
    I won't go so far as to call it a revolution, but hit will fhit the san.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 03, 2009 @02:16AM (#28923563)

    In the United States, a lot of seriously corruption that would get other country's media in a frenzy is simply ignored, because the media is on the take in this country.

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351