Breaking News

Thousands of Hungarians protest against tax on Internet traffic

TechnologyOct 26, 2014 04:40PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
2/2 © Reuters People hold up their mobile phones as they protest against a new tax on Internet data transfers in the centre of Budapest 2/2

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Thousands of Hungarians protested in Budapest on Sunday against a planned new tax on Internet data transfers, which they said would not only increase the tax burden but would also curb fundamental democratic rights and freedoms.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government, which has been widely accused of adopting anti-democratic policies, first unveiled plans for the new tax late on Tuesday in the draft 2015 tax bill submitted to parliament.

The draft tax bill contains a provision for Internet providers to pay a tax of 150 forints (60 U.S. cents) per gigabyte of data traffic, though it would also let companies offset corporate income tax against the new levy.

The rally on Sunday was organized by a Facebook group which has over 210,000 supporters. The protesters, which some local websites estimated as numbering over 10,000, gathered in front of the Economy Ministry.

"The move... follows a wave of alarming anti-democratic measures by Orban that is pushing Hungary even further adrift from Europe," the organizers of "100,000 against the Internet tax" said 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," they added.

At one point, protesters held up their mobile phones, lighting up the square in front of the ministry. Then they walked to the city's historic Heroes Square. Some of them also went to the nearby headquarters of the ruling Fidesz party and threw outdated computer parts at the building, breaking some windows, local Internet website reported.

The organizers gave the government 48 hours to withdraw the tax legislation and said there would be a fresh protest on Tuesday if this does not happen.

Fidesz said in a statement on Sunday that on Monday it would submit an amendment to the legislation in parliament, which would set a maximum level on the tax payable by individuals. It said monthly payments would be capped at 700 forints, and Internet providers would pay the tax.

But some protesters said the new tax was an epitome of the government's mistaken economic policies.

"This would be a double tax on us, as I have already paid a sky-high VAT when I bought the gadgets, computer and router," said Attila Sos, 43, who came to the protest with his family.

"This is a good occasion for a lot of people to come here to show that they are discontent with the government's tax and economic policies. This was only the icing on the cake."

"The Internet connects people and it should not be limited," said Krisztina Nagy, 21, who wants to be a Web programmer, and fears that companies would push the costs of the new tax onto customers.

Orban's government has in recent years imposed special taxes on the banking, retail and energy sectors as well as on telecommunications providers to keep the budget deficit in check, jeopardizing profits in some sectors of the economy and unnerving international investors.

At the same time, it has cut personal income taxes.

The Association of IT, Telecommunications and Electronics Companies has said the tax would force them to raise prices.

(Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Eric Walsh)

Thousands of Hungarians protest against tax on Internet traffic

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind: 

  • Enrich the conversation
  • Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed.
  • Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically.
  •  Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and links within a comment will be removed
  • Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user.
  • Don’t Monopolize the Conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to air their thoughts. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email