Tags: hungary | internet | tax | protest

Hungary Internet Tax Protest Brings Thousands Into Streets

By    |   Tuesday, 28 Oct 2014 07:35 AM

A protest against Hungary's proposed Internet tax sprung up on Sunday evening in Budapest, with tens of thousands of citizens taking to the streets with signs and bullhorns.

"They want to limit our right to information and shepherd us toward state media," one of the protestors, a 55-year-old man, told The Wall Street Journal.

Other chants heard throughout the night at Heroes’ Square included: "Free Internet, Free Country!"; "Censorship, Censorship!"; "Democracy, Democracy!"; and "Viktor, get lost! Viktor, get lost!" in reference to Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Orban came to power in 2010, and his Fidesz party has a two-thirds majority in parliament. The new law he proposed would tax each gigabyte of data 150 forints (62 cents). On Sunday, in response to the planned protests, he said the government would add an amendment to the bill that would cap the tax at 700 forints ($2.87) a month.

The Fidesz party said that the tax will raise 100 billion forints ($414 million) annually, and help the country lower its budget deficit within the European Union to 3 percent of GDP, according to The Atlantic.

Protesters are worried, however, that the tax will limit free speech, and aid in the creation of an "illiberal state" like that of Russia and China — something Orban promoted earlier this summer when speaking to a group of ethnic Hungarians in Romania.

"The move is part of the Orban government’s increasingly repressive efforts to control and punish independent media and civil society watchdog groups through both legal and economic means," the organizers of the protest stated in an email.

Still others believe the Orban administration knew the tax would cause and uproar, and thus used it to distract from a corruption scandal that was previously dominating the headlines.

David, a 25-year-old biologist who attended the protests, said Orban proposed the tax "so that people would stop talking about the U.S. visa-ban scandal."

Earlier this month, the U.S. banned six Hungarian state officials from entry because of their alleged involvement in government corruption. It did not name the six, however, leaving Hungarians to call upon their own government to release the names and investigate the matter.



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A protest against Hungary's proposed Internet tax sprung up on Sunday evening in Budapest, with tens of thousands of citizens taking to the streets with signs and bullhorns.
hungary, internet, tax, protest
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2014-35-28
Tuesday, 28 Oct 2014 07:35 AM
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