Budapest (MTI) – Several civil organisations complained about an amendment concerning data protection at the postal services submitted to parliament by a ruling-party official last week.
An open letter signed by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ), Transparency International Hungary, anti-graft K-Monitor and Atlatszo.hu organisations on Friday said the proposal submitted by Szilard Nemeth was “disheartening” in its attempt to significantly curtail access to data of public interest and the monitoring of the use of public funds. The proposed amendment would allow postal services Magyar Posta and its subsidiaries to keep all kinds of data under wraps, on the ground that access to them would hurt business interests, the letter said. The organisations said the law, if passed, would go against Hungary’s basic law by allowing an “arbitrary and unlimited” control on access to data about a company operated from public funds.
The leftist opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) said it would take a complaint over the law amendment to the European Commission, as in their view, the law would allow Magyar Posta to be exempted from the rules of freedom of information. Laszlo Varju, the party’s deputy leader, told a press conference on Thursday, that the planned law on Magyar Posta is only the government’s “way of putting out feelers” and it would be followed by other similar laws on bigger companies, from utility companies to the central bank. This is an attempt by the government to see if it can succeed in hiding information about the use of public funds, he said.
Government office chief Janos Lazar said on Thursday that the postal-services bill aims to regulate data handling at Magyar Posta in a way that the company should not lose its competitiveness in connection with the services it provides on the market.
The law amendment is one of eight bills on which lawmakers would hold a general debate in parliament next Tuesday.