Hungarian Protesters Urge To Scrap Internet Tax

November 1st, 2014 by James

On Sunday, more than 10,000 people marched in Budapest to demand the scrapping of a proposed tax on Internet use. The critics of Prime Minister Viktor Orban call the proposed tax on internet use as his latest anti-democratic measure.

Hungarian protesters urge to scrap Internet tax

“There will be no Internet tax… we will block it,” organizer Balazs Gulyas told the crowd to cheers. “If the tax is not scrapped within 48 hours, we will be back again,” he said.

In an echo of recent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, the crowd held smartphone torches aloft outside the economy ministry and held signs with slogans such as “Free Wifi! Free Internet! Free Hungary!”

Included in Fidesz’s 2015 budget proposal, the tax would charge telecom companies 150 forints (about 61 cents) per gigabyte of data and can reduce the budget deficit of Hungary to within the European Union standard of 3 percent of GDP by generating potential revenue from the tax at 100 billion forints ($414 million).

Economy Minister Mihaly Varga said the tax of 150 forints (0.50 euros, $0.61) on each transferred gigabyte of data — was required to help shore up the 2015 budget of Hungary, one of the EU’s most indebted nations. Varga added the internet use tax was fair because it was a shift away from phone lines and to the Internet.

“The EU has been critical of Orban for introducing illiberal policies, but they’ve not used all available tools to sanction him,” said Tsveta Petrova, a Europe analyst at Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy. “They’ve allowed Fidesz to claim it is defending Hungarians against the interests of European bureaucrats.”

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