Judit Varga – Photo: BZT / Nóra Halász

Justice minister calls for EU action to promote ‘people’s rights in cyberspace’

Personal rights must be protected "in the cyberspace, too", Justice Minister Judit Varga said in Parliament on Monday, and called for fast action and for the European Union setting an example.

At a conference dubbed Dialogue on the Future of Europe: Building a Digital European Union, Varga urged efforts to ensure that people can use the internet safely.

Digitalisation now affects the whole of society and offers limitless opportunities, she said, but added that those opportunities involve responsibilities, too. “It is important that we take our future in Europe in our own hands and build a digital future that serves the benefit of the people,” she said.

The minister insisted that the current “digital revolution” was a major challenge, adding that the internet had reshaped people’s lives, society, and culture. Social media is becoming more and more influential with billions of users worldwide, but “it has spread too quickly and by now the drawbacks are obvious”, she said.

More and more users are diappointed with the “spread of fake news, abuse of personal data and curbed freedom of expression”, she said, adding that social media offers opportunities for “gathering personal information, surveillance of people’s habits and behaviour and controlling citizens”.

Protecting personal data is increasingly important, and the challenge is if “we can keep the technology under control or it will take control over our life”, she said.

She said that Hungary’s recently established Digital Freedom Committe had drawn up a document containing a list of issues with the current regulations to be addressed.

Varga said that “the same laws must be enforced online and offline” and insisted that regulation of the platforms of social media was unavoidable. “It is not good if players of the digital market abuse their monopoly power,” the minister added.

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