European Blog Action against Censorship in Hungary
We are calling for a European Blog Action against censorship in Hungary!
On January 1st, Hungary will take over the Presidency of the EU Council. On the same day, a controversial new law will come into force that even the OSCE‘s media freedom representative has openly criticised - arguing in a recent report that “regulating online media is not only technologically impossible but it exerts a chilling, self-censoring effect on free expression.”
Under this new law, a National Media and Communications Authority (NMHH) will be set up – a body that Reuters reports will be “dominated by people loyal to the ruling Fidesz party.” Members of this new authority (all appointed by the government) will oversee all media in Hungary – including group blogs – opening the door to politically motivated censorship. The Foreign Minister of Luxembourg has argued that “[Hungary's] plans clearly violate the spirit and the letter of EU treaties,” adding: “It raises the question whether such a country is worthy of leading the EU.”
The new law does not require any third party to lodge a complaint – the NMHH can decide to levy fines entirely on its own. Furthermore, any media outlet targeted for being “unbalanced” by the new authority will have to pay fines of hundreds of thousands of euros first before it can lodge an appeal (a process that can take years). Media (especially bloggers) could be pushed into bankruptcy before they have a chance to appeal their fines – inevitably resulting in self-censorship as individuals are scared to risk irritating the government.
Europe’s bloggers are not going to accept that the EU Council will be presided over by a country acting against the fundamental rights of EU citizens. Such rank hypocrisy cannot go unchallenged. Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the EU is very clear about this:
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.
2. The freedom and pluralism of the media shall be respected.
We see this right being violated by the upcoming EU Council Presidency and are thus inviting bloggers from all around the EU to join our European Blog Action.
Voice your criticism in your blogs, on Twitter and Facebook – and put the links to your articles into the comments of this post. If you want, you can additionally send your links directly to the press team of the Hungarian Council Presidency – here is their email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can also share your links and thoughts on Twitter – we are proposing the hashtag #NoToHuEU.
Let’s make ourselves heard!