Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is withdrawing his government’s proposal to implement an internet tax on data transfers.
As reported by Hungary Today, Orban appeared on public radio this morning to announce the news. He also revealed that a national consultation on telecommunications financing will begin in mid-January 2015.
The Hungarian government announced plans for the new tax last week in the draft 2015 tax bill submitted to parliament. The proposed levy was to be implemented on internet service providers with 150 Hungarian forints (€0.49) being charged for every gigabyte of data traffic.
Responding to the scheme, about 10,000 Hungarian protesters took to the street outside of the Economy Ministry in Budapest on Monday to voice their dissent before marching to the city’s Heroes Square. Some protesters went to the nearby headquarters of the ruling Fidesz party, where they smashed windows by throwing old computer parts.
“The move … follows a wave of alarming anti-democratic measures by Orban that is pushing Hungary even further adrift from Europe,” said protest organisers in a press release. “The measure would impede equal access to the internet, deepening the digital divide between Hungary’s lower economic groups, and limiting internet access for cash-poor schools and universities.”
Although Orban has this morning stated that extending the telecommunication tax would be fair, he has conceded that the current proposal cannot go ahead as “the common basis is missing” and “the debate has gone astray”.
Victor Orban image via Shutterstock