Hungarians protest proposed tax on internet data transfers

27 Oct 201474 Views

Thousands of Hungarian protestors last night (26 October) took to the street outside of the Economy Ministry in Budapest to voice their dissent at a planned tax on internet data transfers.

Reuters reports that approximately 10,000 people gathered in front of the ministry before marching to the city's Heroes Square. Some protestors went to the nearby headquarters of the ruling Fidesz party – which is led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban – where they smashed windows by throwing old computer parts.

The Hungarian government announced plans for the new tax on Tuesday (21 October) in the draft 2015 tax bill submitted to parliament. The proposed levy will be implemented on internet service providers with 150 Hungarian forints (€0.49) being charged for every gigabyte of data traffic.

The bill will also allow providers to offset corporate income tax against the proposed levy. According to thedaily.hu, it is unclear if the companies will pass on the cost to consumers or if there will be a cap.

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"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."

Organisers say another protest will go ahead on Tuesday if the government does not withdraw the tax legislation.

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Dean is a freelance journalist and editor covering media.

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