New Hungary Anti-Terror Measures after Brussels Attacks


Hungary unveiled Thursday a draft package of anti-terror measures in response to the Brussels attacks that would make phone and Internet surveillance easier and allow bank accounts to be tracked in real time.

"The events in Paris and Brussels have settled the debate, the terrorism threat has grown," Interior Minister Sandor Pinter told a press conference in parliament.

At present, an individual's Internet and phone use can only be accessed following a court order, and the telecoms provider can still refuse.

Under the proposed new measures, which the government in the EU member state wants to go before parliament in April, a court order will still be necessary, but the provider will no longer be able to deny access.

Mobile phone traffic could also be limited in the event of an attack so that only text messages could be sent in order to free up networks for emergency services.

Authorities will also have the right to monitor in real-time bank accounts of individuals and organizations linked to extremism.

Pinter said the package was agreed on by the cabinet Wednesday, and that details would be published in the coming days.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the Brussels attacks "should be considered as an attack on Hungary as well", and that Hungary must take "all necessary steps" to protect itself.

Parts of the package will require changes to existing legislation and to the constitution, and Pinter said talks would begin immediately with opposition parties in order to secure a two-thirds majority in parliament where needed.

The package also includes funding for extra manpower and new technical equipment for security and border control forces, as well as the setting-up of a counter-terror institute to analyze terror attacks.

The measures however would "not be against the Hungarian people but in the interest of their security," Pinter said.

Earlier this year rights groups including Amnesty International expressed concern that a previous government bid to bring in sweeping anti-terror laws would have allowed authorities to severely curtail personal freedoms.

Hungary's announcement came ahead of a meeting of EU interior and justice ministers in Brussels following Tuesday's attacks.

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