Hungary protest internet tax
Tens of thousands of Hungarians march in Budapest during a protest against a new tax on data transfers on the internet.Reuters

Tens of thousands of Hungarians have marched through the capital Budapest to protest a draft law that will effectively tax internet use from 2015.

The Tuesday rally marked one of the biggest anti-government demonstrations in the country for years, as huge crowds flooded the capital's main squares.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government submitted the draft law to parliament on 21 October. The draft law would effectively impose a charge of 150 forints ($0.60, £0.40, €0.50) for each gigabyte (1,024 megabytes) of data used. It would also allow companies to offset corporate income tax against the new levy.

The government has defended the measure as necessary to boost its budget, but opponents argue the tax will impact disproportionately on the country's poorest citizens. Orban's government has been widely accused of passing anti-democratic measures while in office.

The European Union has condemned the draft bill as a bad idea, warning that it could threaten political freedom in the country.

Protests first erupted on Sunday, where huge crowds held their mobile phones aloft in unison outside the Hungarian economy ministry offices, while some people threw old computer parts at the ruling Fidesz party's main office.

For its part, Fidesz has attempted to quell the rising discontent by insisting on a 700 forint monthly cap on the levy for individuals, as well as a 5,000 forint cap for businesses. However, the concession has failed to stem the mounting anger of Hungary's streets.

Hungary protest internet tax
People holds up their mobile phones as they protest against new tax on internet data transfers in BudapestReuters