Governments can try to get away with anything; except placing new limitations on the internet. A proposed Hungarian internet tax has sparked protests as citizens took to the streets to express their displeasure at being taxed for each gigabyte used. It is believed that the move is meant to limit access to information and has even drawn condemnation from the European Union. Under the proposed tax, users would be charged 150 forint (RM2) for each gigabyte of data started. Considering how heavy internet usage is these days, this has unsurprisingly angered almost everyone. The Hungarian government later amended the proposal to limit the tax to a maximum of 700 (RM9.40) forint a month, which would be paid by the ISPs instead of the users. However, many point out that there is nothing stopping the internet providers from passing the costs on to their customers.
Critics are saying that the issue is also meant to divert attention from the worsening internal relations between Hungary and the US. Several Hungarian officials have recently been blacklisted from visiting America due to alleged involvement in corruption.
It is terrible that govt of #Hungary thinks it can reduce media freedom, target media owners and then tax the alternative. Wrong direction!
— Neelie Kroes (@NeelieKroesEU) October 22, 2014
Neelie Kroes, outgoing vice president of the European Union’s executive and the commissioner in charge of the EU’s digital agenda published tweets calling the proposed tax a shame and a step in the wrong direction. Kroes pointed out that all media outlets pay a tax on all their advertising revenue. [Source: Wall Street Journal; via BBC]