Report on the State of Internet Freedom in Hungary as Part of Comparative Study of the Visegrad4 Countries

April 27, 2015

Title: Internet Freedom Report 2014: Hungary
Author: Gábor Polyák (Mérték Média Monitor), Kate Coyer, Joost van Beek
Publication Type: Report
Year: 2015
Date Published: 03/2015
Institution: Center for Media, Data and Society (CMDS) for Internet Freedom Report 2014: Visegrad Four  
Language: English 

CMDS collaborated on a report on the state of internet freedom in Hungary, as part of a study of the Visegrad countries (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia) led by Transitions and PASOS (Policy Association for an Open Society). The report was produced by Gábor Polyák (Mérték Média Monitor), Kate Coyer (CMDS), and Joost van Beek (CMDS).

The Hungarian case study found that while domestic and international pressure led to the Hungarian government rolling back a few of the most severe restrictions on online and other media, the scope of media and Internet regulation has increased significantly over the past four years; that publishers and bloggers are vulnerable to heavy fines, sanctions, and formal and informal government pressure; that regulatory bodies lack transparency and diversity of membership; and that serious ambiguity exists within the new criminal code and other opaque rules leaving room for abuse of authority over online content filtering and blockage. The study concludes with a series of recommendations for improving freedom online.

The study, Internet Freedom 2014: Visegrad Four was undertaken to raise the public profile of Internet freedom and censorship issues in the Visegrad countries and internationally. Independent think-tanks and research centers in each of the four countries compiled the reports with a common methodology designed by PASOS. The study was made possible with financial support from Google.

The findings of the four reports revealed that there are big differences between the four post-communist Visegrad countries in terms of rights of freedom of expression, level of surveillance of online activity by police and intelligence agencies, and in the way the Internet is governed. The Czech Republic was found to have the strongest internet freedom of the four; with Hungary scoring the lowest.