[JURIST] Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban [BBC profile] on Friday announced that the proposed law on Internet tax will not be introduced in its current form. The law, which was due for a vote [Guardian report] on November 17, drew criticism for its alleged potential effect of curtailing opposition voices. The proposed legislation sparked mass protests in Budapest and other cities around the country and EU, despite the government’s justification that the law was proposed to reduce debt. The tax was originally set [AFP report] to be 150 forints (USD $0.62) per gigabyte of Internet traffic but would be capped at 700 forints per month. The law also received harsh criticism from yelecommunication firms and Internet companies that claimed it would reduce the country’s competitiveness.
Last year the Hungarian government enacted constitutional amendments [JURIST report] after receiving criticism over its 2012 constitutional amendments. The amendments contained new rules on the recognition of religious groups, as well as modifications to the bans on political advertisements on commercial television and radio stations. The changes allowed political campaign advertisements on commercial TV and radio, but broadcasters would not be allowed to charge for them. Political parties were also be given equal air time. Justice Ministry of Hungary Robert Repassy stated that the amendments were proposed as the result of pressure due to the harsh criticism Hungary received. Human rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] criticized [JURIST report] the changes as “largely cosmetic.”