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David MarchantEditor at OffshoreAlert
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'Reporters Without Borders' - You can't be serious!

April 21, 2016 by David Marchant
The France-based 'Reporters Without Borders' has just released its ' 2016 World Press Freedom Index ', which purports to measure the "level of freedom of information in 180 countries", and, not for the first time with this annual index, I question whether any of those who came up with the rankings have ever done any serious investigative journalism, so bizarre are they.

Since OffshoreAlert was launched in 1997, I've investigated serious financial crime in many of the world's countries and I can say that, hands down, the USA is not only the most transparent by a country mile (e.g. PACER provides the public with online access to entire dockets for federal civil, criminal and bankruptcy cases at minimal cost) but also offers an array of protections for journalists without which OffshoreAlert couldn't protect victims of fraud and other financial criminal activity, e.g. The SPEECH Act, which essentially renders foreign defamation judgments unenforceable in the country; Section 230 of the Federal Communications Decency Act, which means we can't be held liable for third-party content like message board postings; and, importantly, a high-quality, efficient,cost-effective and transparent legal system through which to litigate disputes.

Yet we're expected to believe that, with a ranking of 41, the USA is worse for press freedom than the United Kingdom (# 38), whose defamation laws are an affront to civilization and which would have bankrupted OffshoreAlert a long time ago should I have been stupid enough to have set up shop there and where civil servants seem to take great pride in being incompetent and denying journalists and the general public access to information they're legally entitled to, as anyone who has ever tried to obtain information from London's High Court can attest to. In the US, it takes seconds to find and download a wide array of court documents, in the UK it takes months to obtain even basic documentation.

Germany has been given a ranking of 16 by Reporters Without Borders, notwithstanding the fact that members of the public are not entitled to any information whatsoever regarding criminal cases and where, laughably, the government recently accepted a request from Turkey for the criminal prosecution of a German comedian for mocking the Turkish president, and an array of European Union countries have high rankings (e.g. Finland, #1; Netherlands, #2; Denmark, #4, etc.) despite the fact that EU residents can't even access basic red-flag information about people on search engines such as Google due to the EU's crime-friendly 'Right to be Forgotten' court ruling. That ruling was rendered after a complaint from a resident of Spain that his prior indebtedness should be concealed from the public and future business partners, including, presumably, future potential lenders. Incredibly, Spain's ranking is also higher than the USA's.

Frankly, the '2016 World Press Freedom Index' stinks of ignorance, incompetence, bias and politics ... an embarrassment and a disgrace to a profession whose best practitioners are knowledgeable, competent, unbiased and apolitical.

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