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Hungary wants to tax internet data transfers

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The country, in a deficit, wants to make service providers pay per gigabyte

Late on Tuesday, the Hungarian government proposed a controversial way of dealing with a national budget deficit: taxing internet service providers for data transfers sent over the web. Under the new tax provisions, providers would pay 150 forints — the equivalent of about 62 cents — for every gigabyte of information transferred, a cost that could quickly add up.

The public reaction to the tax has been negative

The details of the provision are still being decided, but customers and businesses are already concerned about the final tab, and who'll be the one to foot it in 2015. Hungarian officials say the provision would bring in about 20 billion forints, or more than $8 million, but that number's in dispute; other estimates peg the total at closer to $720 million, more than all revenue generated by the country's internet service industry, Reuters reports.

Hungary has been taxing other private industries to make up for economic losses, but the public reaction to the tax has been negative. Although the taxes are aimed at service providers, internet users believe the costs will be passed on to them, and thousands said they would rally Sunday to protest the provisions. In response, Hungarian officials are trying to mollify customers: changes to the provision could now cap the amount that customers will be forced to pay, although it's not clear yet what that number will be.