Internet freedom in Hungary in decline according to Freedom House
October 19. 2022. – 09:43 AM
The freedom marker of the Hungarian internet has dropped one point, and it is now only "partly free" according to the most recent report of Freedom House. Although it is relatively cheap to use the internet in Hungary, and internet use itself is not yet restricted (i.e. there are no blocked networks or social networking sites), the overall situation is nonetheless worsening.
The Hungarian internet received the highest possible score regarding
- infrastructure availability (internet speed and strength of connection),
- price of service and the resulting inequalities,
- government influence
- and the limiting of online communities
A maximum score of 3, 4, 5 or 6 can be given in each category.
The Hungarian internet scored half or less of the available points in the following categories:
- free, fair and independent functioning of public bodies that influence the internet;
- the extent to which governmental or near-governmental actors use the legal system to restrict who can post what on the internet (especially on human rights issues);
- the extent to which the government and near-governmental or other powerful actors influence internet sources of information to advance their political interests (most notably the pro-government media empire and KESMA);
- the extent to which economic or regulatory constraints make it difficult to publish online content (mainly the Media Council (Médiatanács) and the difficulties in the advertising market);
- the extent to which certain laws could bring about criminal or civil consequences for certain online activities, especially those that are otherwise protected by international human rights standards;
- the extent to which the government restricts anonymous communication and encryption;
- the extent to which government surveillance violates people's privacy rights;
- the extent to which websites and individuals are subject to hacking or cyber-attacks;
A minimum score of 71 points is needed to receive a free rating (which was Hungary's score last year), but this year, the country only scored 69 points.
In the period under review, between June 2021 to June 2022, it was observed that the situation continues to deteriorate gradually, especially after the government's acquisition of more and more telecommunications companies and media.
The situation was further aggravated by the declaration of a state of danger due to the war in neighbouring Ukraine.
Other important milestones include the telecom conquest of 4iG (DIGI then Vodafone Hungary), the blocking of Russian state media sites, the DDOS attack on servers during the primaries held by the opposition coalition, the extension of the state of danger and the PEGASUS surveillance scandal. The full report may be read here.
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The translation of this article was made possible by our cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation.