Net Censorship Fears As Hungary Takes EU PresidencyPublished on 3 January 2011 @ 10:12 pm
Intellectual Property Watch
An internet civil liberties group in Hungary has warned that the country’s new media law gives the government censorship authority, threatening freedom of speech and independent journalism. The law took effect on 1 January – at the same time Hungary assumed the six-month presidency of the European Union, raising fears of EU level spread of such policies.
The group, blackout4hungary, has called for an internet blackout on 5 January for one day in protest as Hungary officially takes the presidency on 6 January.
The group said “concerned citizens’ opinion is confirmed by the joint analysis of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the Eötvös Károly Institute and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee.” The analysis found that the legislation will enact a compulsory registration system for all content providers and establishes stiff fines for violations, including by news outlets and blogs. “The media authority will have the power to suspend or even shut down internet websites that does not meet the requirements,” it said. “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.”
Of concern at the EU level is that Hungary will usher in new EU-wide censorship such as under child protection rules.
A detailed analysis was also provided here.
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