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Hungary ditches Internet tax plans after protests

Hungary ditches Internet tax plans after protests

While scrapped for now, plans for an Internet tax could be back on the table next year

People in Budapest, Hungary hold up their phones during protest against a proposed Internet tax

People in Budapest, Hungary hold up their phones during protest against a proposed Internet tax

Hungary has ditched for now plans for an Internet tax after tens of thousands of people took to the streets last week protesting what they called an absurd and crippling measure.

The country's prime minister, Victor Orbán, announced on national radio on Friday morning that he would scrap plans for the tax after mounting pressure, according to a message posted to his website.

"He said that there will be no Internet tax in this form," a group of protesters said in a news release welcoming the decision.

However, there could still be an Internet tax in Hungary. "While obfuscating details, he announced a national consultation to take place starting in January 2015," the protesters said. By Friday the group had gathered almost 240,000 'likes' on Facebook.

Nevertheless, the protesters were pleased that Orbán had apparently bowed to pressure.

Tens of thousands of Hungarian people took to the streets on Sunday and Tuesday to show their dismay with the plans to introduce a tax of 150 Hungarian forint (US$0.62) on every gigabyte of data consumed. Such a tax would limit freedom of expression and cripple online companies that use big amounts of data, they said.

The protesters will celebrate the victory in Budapest, the country's capital, with another street gathering on Friday night. They aim to keep citizens connected so that there should be no Internet tax in the future, they said.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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