A new media law in Hungary creates a powerful censorship authority without oversight and excessive powers under control of the governing party, which endangers the freedom of speech, the Internet and journalism as a whole. Citizens are called to black-out the Internet from the 5th January – when Hungary is taking over the EU presidency on the 6th January 2011.
RIP?… The Bridge of Liberty, Budapest.
The new Hungarian media law entered into force on January the 1st 2011. This law enables the ruling party to gain control of the Internet through the creation of a powerful censorship authority. While destroying journalistic source protection the text also fails to distinguish between different types of media, mixing online platforms and traditional broadcasters and making them obey the same standards. The Hungarian ruling party deliberately avoided public consultation on the new media law. It is plain to see their will to control and censor the Internet while bypassing democracy and suppressing dissent, opposition and transparency. Concerned citizens’ opinion is confirmed by the joint analysis of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the Eötvös Károly Institute and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, who observe that…
“…the Bill will enact a compulsory registration system for all content providers. The maximum amount of fines for national television broadcaster is set to 200 million HUF, and to 25 million HUF for national printed and online newspapers (including blogs with advertisements). The media authority will have the power to suspend or even shut down Internet websites that does not meet the requirements. The Bill will establish legal responsibility beyond the press for intermediary providers. This shift would be in sharp contrast with EU regulation. According to the original plans, decisions of the authority may be subject to judicial review, but submitting a motion to the court would not have any suspending effect as far as the execution of sentences is concerned.”
Hungary will take over the EU presidency on the 6th of January, while various Member States are attempting to impose Internet censorship, amongst widespread local and international protest about the new media legislation. As the “Child Protection” EU directive will attempt to sneakily impose censorship of the Net, it is now very likely that the Hungarian Presidency will participate in the global EU effort of censoring the Internet.
“All citizens, in Hungary and beyond, should react to this blatant attack against the Internet! When the Hungarian government opens the box of Net censorship, after the French and the Italian ones, it’s all of EU should be afraid. We must warn EU citizens and reject any scheme of Internet censorship altogether!” conludes Vince Kovács, spokesperson of blackout4hungary.