Tens of thousands of Hungarians gathered in central Budapest this Sunday to protest a proposed tax on Internet use. Hungarian protesters hurled old computer equipment and held up their mobile phones n opposition to the tariff and plans of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
The protestors accused Orban of attempting to restrict freedom of information in the country. The internet use tax, which is included in Fidesz’s 2015 budget proposal, would charge telecom companies 150 forints (about 61 cents) per gigabyte of data. It is believed that the potential revenue from the tax at 100 billion forints ($414 million) can help the country reduce its budget deficit to within the European Union standard of 3 percent of GDP.
Hungary’s move was criticized by the European Union. “Any government that tries a tax like this is going to get it wrong. It is going to add up to a very big mess and that is why Neelie Kroes and the Commission want to make it clear before taxes like this come in that it’s the wrong direction to be heading in,” Ryan Heath, spokesman for Ms. Kroes, the outgoing vice president of the European Commission and the commissioner in charge of the EU’s digital agenda, said. “Neelie Kroes wants to make it clear we shouldn’t allow this to fade away,” Mr. Heath added. Ms. Kroes continues to support protests against the plan, he said. “If Hungary becomes a precedent in this instance, it can become a problem in many other member states and become a problem for Europe’s wider economic growth,” Heath said.