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Protests stall Hungary's internet tax

Friday, October 31, 2014 - 01:55

Hungary will shelve plans to introduce a tax on internet data traffic that has generated big protests over the past week. But as Amy Pollock reports the controversial issue hasn’t gone away entirely.

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TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~**NONE*~ Protests like these are not what you expect just six months after a landslide election win and with an economy set to grow three percent this year. But plans for an internet data tax provoked widespread anger. And the strength of feeling has now forced Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban to shelve the controversial measure. (SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER, VIKTOR ORBAN, SAYING: "We cannot introduce this because there is no common ground. And whenever there is no common ground nothing should be introduced." 100,000 protesters took to the streets of Budapest earlier this week. Hungarians fearing the new tax would restrict internet freedom (SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT ACTIVIST SAYING: "Hello, Viktor Orban, here are the Hungarian people speaking." (SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) PROTESTER, ILDIKO PIRK, SAYING: "This is something that affects everyone in one way or another, and this is really tangible for people, they feel it in their own life. It's like the last drop in the glass." The tax was also seen as an extension of the government's creeping authoritarianism The EU even chimed in. (SOUNDBITE) (English) OUTGOING EUROPEAN COMMISSION VICE PRESIDENT NEELIE KROES SPOKESMAN, RYAN HEATH, SAYING: "It has to be seen as part of the pattern of actions limiting freedoms or sought to take rents without achieving a wider economic or social interest" The government had planned to tax internet data transfers at 150 forints - that's about 60 cents - per gigabyte. But after analysts pointed out that would exceed the sector's annual revenue the government promised a cap. Individuals were then set to pay around three dollars a month and companies 20 dollars. And it's not the only controversial Orban policy. A pension fund asset grab and heavy business taxes have also provoked complaints. Orban says he's simply trying to extend taxes across the board - and may still look at charging for money made online in the new year. That's assuming Hungarians will let him!

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Protests stall Hungary's internet tax

Friday, October 31, 2014 - 01:55