Hungary: Thousands protest against tax on internet usage citing limits to free speech & internet access

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Article
28 October 2014

EU digital agenda spokesman says internet tax is part of wider pattern to limit media & internet freedom

Author: Jennifer Baker, Register (UK)

"Hungary's internet tax cannot be allowed to set a precedent, says EC", 28 Oct 2014

We cannot allow Hungary to set a precedent with its internet tax, the European Commission’s digital agenda spokesman said on Tuesday...“This must be seen in a wider context as part of a pattern to limit media and internet freedom,” said Heath. “That is why it is so important to tackle this now before a law is enacted. We have seen the pattern in Hungary where they announce a very tough law and then they moderate it in an effort to seem reasonable. But we cannot allow this issue to fade away.”...While the tax will be levied on ISPs, individual consumers worry the costs will be passed straight onto them. The reasoning behind Orban's announcement of a cap for people ostensibly not directly hit by the tax is unclear...The EU's Heath said that the proposed tax is wrong and is an attempt to force people off the internet.“It won’t work,” stormed Heath, “because you cannot tax a global common resource like the internet unilaterally."...

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Article
28 October 2014

Govt. puts cap on tax following protests

Author: Marton Eder and Zoltan Simon, Bloomberg

"Hungary Internet-Tax Protest Swells Into Anti-Orban Demo", 27 Oct 2014

Tens of thousands of people marched in Budapest yesterday against a plan to introduce a 150 forint (62 cent) tax per gigabyte in the first rally of its size since Orban’s April re-election...Protesters, who gave the government until tomorrow to revoke its plan, said taxing Internet use was an attempt to restrict freedom of information by Orban, a recurrent argument against a leader whose centralization of power triggered criticism from allies including the U.S. and fellow European Union members...“Those who use the Internet see more of the world, that’s why the government doesn’t want a free Internet,” organizer Balazs Gulyas told the crowd. “We’re not going to pay an Internet tax to a corrupt tax authority.”...The ruling party issued a statement last night as protests were still under way that it would cap the tax at 700 forint and make telecommunication companies pay the levy instead of individual subscribers...The government argued the tax would generate as much as 25 billion forint of revenue...

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