Hungary’s far-right government has vowed to make life difficult for social media giants Facebook, Twitter, Google and Google Plus.
The government wants social media firms to limit access to their platforms to political figures and websites and force them to turn over information to the authorities if they don’t comply with court orders.
The proposed legislation, dubbed the Hungarian Cyber Security Law, was tabled by Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Wednesday, making it the country’s most sweeping cyber-crime legislation in more than three decades.
“We’re going to make it harder to use social media, to share information, to access information and to use it for political purposes,” Orban said at a news conference.
“Our message is clear: we will make it difficult to use the Internet for political activities and we will block any attempt to do so.”
He also pledged to make information about Hungary’s alleged human rights abuses public.
In the first instance, social media companies must give access to a user’s data only to authorized users and those with clear legal authority.
Orban called on the Hungarian government to create an “independent, private database” of all information about Hungarian citizens that is used by the government.
The legislation also imposes fines of up to 1 million hryvnia ($16,600) on companies who fail to comply with the law.
A government official said Hungary plans to issue a public notice of proposed amendments to the legislation by the end of the week.
Hungary has long been a hotbed for online political activism, and the government has tried to crack down on online political activity by cracking down on content, including hate speech.
In 2016, authorities banned Twitter and Google from operating in Hungary, citing threats of violence against them.
The same year, the government arrested Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who was living in Budapest, and blocked his accounts in Hungary.
The new legislation is aimed at curbing political speech.
Facebook and Google said they support the government’s stance, saying they are working to help authorities enforce the law in the country.
“In Hungary, we do not tolerate hate speech or other forms of discrimination and we want to help our governments to protect free speech online,” Facebook said in a statement.
“However, we recognize that blocking accounts from users does not remove content or content providers from engaging in political debate.
We believe the Hungarian cyber security law should be applied in a consistent and non-discriminatory way.”
The European Commission also welcomed Hungary’s proposed legislation.
“The Commission welcomes Hungary’s move to strengthen cybersecurity laws, and is supporting the efforts of the Hungarian authorities to protect the digital environment from cyberattacks,” said an EU spokesman, Jens Leyla.
The European Parliament, meanwhile, expressed its concerns.
“It is critical that Hungary’s laws on cybersecurity are properly implemented and that they protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of Hungarian citizens,” the parliament’s deputy spokesperson, Maria Krzywajczyk, said in an emailed statement.
The commission’s chief privacy officer, Christophe de Margerie, said the legislation would “further weaken online freedoms.”
The new law requires social media platforms to provide “anonymity” to users and block users “who have been identified as politically active or who have shown signs of political activity, including by their name, email address, profile photo, location or location of a third party.”
The government says the law is needed to protect public safety, and critics say the law has already caused the country to lose one of the European Union’s top Internet freedom awards.
The law also requires companies to register users, make it easier for Hungarian authorities access their information and provide more transparency in how they collect and share information.
In February, Hungary’s top court ruled that Facebook must comply with a request from authorities to identify political figures on its platform and that Google must hand over information on the countrys online political network, Fidesz.
Facebook said at the time that it complied and that it is working to “implement our commitments.”