Hungarians Rise-Up In Protest Over Internet Traffic Tax

Last week, Hungary revealed plans to impose a tax on internet data transfers as a way to restore the public finances. However, thousands of Hungarian citizens gathered in the center of Budapest on Sunday to protest the impending tax proposed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s regime making it one of the largest anti-government demonstrations since Prime Minister Orban came to power in 2010.

The rally was organized by a Facebook group that has around 210,000 supporters. According to estimates by local websites, there were about 10,000 protesters who had gathered around the Economy Ministry saying that the proposed internet tax would increase the tax burden and curtail democratic rights and freedoms. Demonstrations involved participants turning on their mobile devices and waving them in peaceful demonstrations to throwing old computer parts at the headquarters of the Fidesz party.

Image Source: Flikr (Gareth Williams)

The proposed tax bill, which would be the first internet tax in the world if it is implemented, contains a clause that would allow the government to charge internet service providers a tax of 150 forints ($0.62 USD) per gigabyte of data traffic. It is a tax that would most likely cause ISPs to push additional fees onto customers to offset the tax. A circumstance that is unappealing to the country’s citizens in the wake of other taxes that have been implemented on energy, banking, and telecommunication businesses under the Orban administration.

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

It further states, "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.”

Protestors gave the government 48 hours (deadline is Tuesday) to withdraw the tax legislation before another protest is staged.