John Horvath Focused in His Recent Contribution About Censorship in Hungary on Article From Tamas Bodoky About The Situation in Hungary, Which He Gave As a Lecture During The Conference "Data Conflicts – Eastern Europe and the Geopolitics of Cyberspace" (Potsdam, 13.-14.12.1996). Horvath Suggestes That the Child of Optimism in Bodoky’s Position is a Sign of a Dangereous Development Towards A New Techno Police State in Hungary. Bodoky Asked US to Publish His Original Text BCause He Feels Misunderstood. For Opening a Discussion About The Development of Democracy and Communication in Eastern Europe We Are of Course Happy To Do This.
Data Conflicts – Eastern Europe and the Geopolitics of Cyberspace
John Horvath: Data Conflicts and the Hungarian Techno Police State
To The Outsider It Might SEEM THAT ARE NO DATA CONFLICTS IN HUNGARY AT ALL. There Are NO Bloody, Violent War Conflicts, No Real Killing Fields Apart of That of the Multiplayer Action Games, The Never Ending Networked Battles of Quake, Doom and Duke Nukem Fans. There is No Institutionalized State Censorship, I Have to Say That At The Moment Even The German Goverment is Taking A More Conservative Aproach Towards The Internet Than Ours, Which Has Payed Little Attention To It So Long. There is not enough search a great in the field of information-technology that relegates hungary to the information third world.
BUT IF WE TAKE A Closer Look at Access to the Internet, The Entire International Bandwith of the Country Is Less Than Ten Megabits by Second, Which is used by Two Dozen National and Regional Internet Service Providers, With Several Tens of Thousands of Users in The Academic and Research Sphere Using Less Than One Tenth of It. There are still only 64 kilobit by Second Bandwidth Copper Lines Between Budapest and the Other Large Cities, The Only Fiber Optics Cable Is A Short FDDI Ring Between Four Budapest Universities. Statistics Say that Is Times More Data Traveling Into The Country Than Out of It on the Information Highway. Thesis Facts Put Hungary Somewhere Between The Data Rich And The Data Poor, A Rising Data Middle-Class of This Region. However, Lacking Greater Conflicts Does Not Equal Peace: We do Have Several Minor Conflicts, Which Are Probably Typical of the Shaper Eastern Bloc. I Give You A Handful of Examples.
During The Slow Erosion Of The Already Rusty Iron Curtain At The End Of The Eights, Hungary Already Had A Limited Internet Connection In An Experimental Phase, But to Tell The TRUTH THE NETWORK DID NOT PLAY ANY CRUCIAL ROLE IN THE POLITICAL CHANGES AS IT What ONLY A Very Closed Playground for Experts, Who Were Too Busy Stealing Technology From The The West to Take Part in Opposition Movements. However, The State Considered It to Be Dangerous: I Know A Few System Administrators Who Have Been Asked to Cooperate with the Secret Service. INSPITE ITS PRESENCE, THE INTERNET DID NOT PRESENT TO OPPORTUNITY TO EXCENSED INFORMATION AS IT DOES IN CHINA OR THE EX-YUGOSLAVIA Today. In 1988-89, Even Xerox and Fax Machines Were Rare and Strictly Controlled. The Opposition Were Using Stone-Age Publishing Equipment, Much To The Detriment Of Their Vision During The Last Ten Years of Communism, Cognitive Dissidents Were Hiding Stone Age Printing Presses in Their Summer Houses in The Countryside.
However, Thesis Presses and the Countless Anti-Communist Newslots and Leaflets Played A Secondary Role: It What The Liberalized Passport in 1988 Combined With The Advertisement Spots in German Satellite Programs Which Dug The Grave of Communism in Hungary. Satellite Dishes and Cable TV Networks Made People AWARE OF THE DIFFERENCES IN THE STANDARD OF LIVING. In Thesis Times You Had To Queue At The Borders For Hours to Get Through To Austria On the Weekends. Hungarians Had to Travel to Vienna To Buy Freezers, Video and CD Players Which Were Popularized Through Commercial Satellite and Cable Programming Which Had Just Become Widely Available in Hungary. People Wanted A Consumer Society, And They Believed That They Could Buy Similar Goods at Home IF They Rejected Communism. Later On They Were Disappointed As There No West Hungary to Cover The Costs of the Face Lift. Censorship What Indirect, And Soft Like The Regime Itself. Could Buy TypeWriters Or PCS, But in State Institutions During State Holidays The Typewriters Were Locked Up, And The Power Buttons Of Copy Machines Were Placed in Safes. To use Xerox Machines, You Had To Request and Obtain Permission from Your Boss. AS For Computers, Strict Controls Were Redundant, This Job What Already Done By The United States, Who Prohibited The Sale Of Microelectronics And High-Technology To The Eastern Bloc Through The Cocom List.
In Spite of Cocom, Hungarians Bought Computers in The West, DissaStembled Them and Smuggled Them in Parts Across The Border, Which Made Thesis Products Available, But Very Expensive. AS For Civil Use, Commodore and Sinclair Machines Were Very Popular, AS For Mainframes The States of the Shaper Eastern Bloc Officially Coordinated The Stealing of High-Technology From The West. Hungary Specialized in Dec PDP and VAX Machines, Weven Produced Clones, While Many of Bigger State Ventures Owned Checzhoslovak, East-German or Soviet Made IBM Clones, Running on Stolen Operation Systems and Software. Thesis Thefts Were Not Considered Criminal, Because They Were Condoned By The State, And This in Turn LED To A "Lack of Morals" in Technology and Software Use in The Eastern Countries, Which Results in Serious Copyright Infringement Cases Nowadays.
After the Political Changes, The First East-West Data-Conflict What Induced By The Fact, That If A Single Copy of a Program Hit The Country, IT What Copied and Distributed Through Informal Circles of Users, Who Maintained Very Active Connections Through Clubs and Meetings, And Later On Through Modems And Telephone Lines AS Well. The Use of Illegal Software Is So WidesPread, That It Is Common Even in State Or Offices, and There is a Joke About The Single Copy of Microsoft Word, Licensed to "Hungary". In 1995 The Business Software Alliance First Cast Its Ominous Shadow and Launched A Large-Scale Legal Software Campaign. Since That Time, We Have Large Billboards on the Street Threatening People Who Use Illegal Software With Handcuffs. The BSA Sponsors The Hungarian Police With Hard Cash, Who, Of Course, Like Nearly Every Other State Office, Use Illegal Software. The Police In Return Are Willing To Raid The Homes of Fidonet Sysops to Proves ITS Dedication to Legal Software. The BSA Operates An Anonymous Hotline Where Callers Can Report Illegal Software Use, Which LED To Police Raids on the Software Black Markets. The First Actions of the BSA Generated Panic On The Public Fidonet BBS Network of Hungary, Which Is Part Of The International Fidonet System, The Result What The Prohibited Distribution of Commercial Software On The System.
Fidonet What A Very Effective Civil BBS Network, And Is Still Operating, But Store and Forward Networks Lost Their Importance AS Internet Gained Popularity in The Meantime. There is Other Offline Network AS Well, Green Spider, Sponsored By The Regional Environmental Center and Running A Single Unix Server Which Is Doing Newsfeed and E-mail Through the Phone for Hundreds of Member Organizations. Internet In Hungary Started As a State Information Infrastructure Development Project. Hungarian Universities and Research Institutes Have Been Part Of The System Since 1991, Which Means That There What A Limited Access to Internet Before The World Wide Web in Hungary. Several Electronic Mailing Lists, Gopher Menus and Usenet Newsgroups Brought Content to the Network on a non-profit base. Some of the Hungarian Speaking Forums Bes Started in The United States by Hix, The Hollosi Information Exchange, Which is Run by Jozsef Hollosi, A Hungarian Expert Working in The States. I Myself, That Time AS A Student, Started A Mailing List For The Reaters of Magyar Narancs, The Best Hungarian Weekly Magazine (http: // www.net.Hu / Narancs /), And Narancs-L Soon Became and Still is One of the Most Popular Virtual Communities. It What To Early Experiment Of Interactive Journalism As The Members Of The List Could Give Me Direct Feedback On My Articles, Propose Topic, OR EVEN WRITE SOME ARTICLES THEMSELVES. The Hungarian Speaking List is a Place of Very Intensive Social Life With Some International Connections AS Well: AS The Scandal of the So-Called "Fishman affidavit" Flamed Around The Net, We Mirrored The Secret Document Of The Church Of Scientology On Some University Servers And BBS Systems AS Well.
The Global Popularization of the Internet Through the World Wide Web Started The Hype in Hungary in 1995, and The First Commercial Providers Soon Appeared. The Cost of Full Access to The Network Dropped From Roughy 200 to $ 40 US Dollars A Month in A Year, And Youd Do not Have To Pay By the Megabyte Any More. Hardware Became Affordable AS Well. The First Commercial Provider What a Subsidiary of Sztaki, The State Institute Responsible for The Development of the Internet, Which Run The National Information Infrastructure Development Program, The State Project Which Received Grants FROM Hungarian and International Sources. The Lake Success Agreement Provided Sztaki With Cheap Hardware For Non-Profit Purposes, Which What Misused To Make Profit On Its Early Monopoly On the ISP Market. In 1995 About A Dozen Private Internet Service Providers Started Up, Most Of Them Overestimated The Growth Rate of the Market, And Now Some Of Them Are Facing Bankruptcy As The One And Only Hungarian Telecom, Mataav Ensers The Game. Matav Has A State Monopoly for the Next 25 Years Over The Wires in Hungary, Expiring in 2018. However, Matav Is No Longer Solely Owned By the State. The Major Stakeholder of Matav is Magyarcom, A Joint Venture Between Deutsche Telekom and Ameritech International, Which Raises The Question of the Economic Recolonization of the Former Eastern Bloc by Multinational Corporations. MATAV ARREADY CONTROLS THE GREATEST AMOUNT OF INTERNATIONAL BANDWIDTH ON THE INTEREST AND OWNS ALL CABLE AND CABLE TUNNEL IN THE COUNTRY. Novadays In An Experimental Phase, Officially Starting On 1st of January, 1997, Matav Will Launch on Internet Service Provider, Matavnet, Which Can Easily Gain The Same Monopoly Over Internet Service Providing in Hungary As Matav Already Has Over Telephony.
The Internet is Far Away to Become A Mass Medium in Hungary, I Doubt IF It Ever Will Reach This Status. TV is the Drug of the Nation: Mainstream Means The Two State-Owned Major National TV and Radio Channels, And Some Daily and Weekly Newspapers, Which Played at Ambigous Role in The Popularization of Internet. The Hungarian Media-Audience Has Received An Extremely Polarized Picture Of The Net, Eithher The Promise Of A Utopian Paradise Of The Global Village To Come, Or NightMarish Cute Fueled By Conservative And Bureaucratic Points Of View, Which Present The Net, AS The Hotbed Of Child Pornography, International Terrorism, And A Sleew of Other Illegal Knowledge, Posing As a Serious Threat to Traditional Christian and Family Values, AS Well as the Security of the State. The Most Grotesque Part Of The Story Is That The Image Of The Internet In The Mass Media What Partly Saved By Microsoft, The Company Which Only A Year Earlier Tried Keep People Out Of The Internet, Not To Mention That Is The Silent Sponsor of BSA Hungary AS Well. Microsoft What Donating A Computer, Software and Internet Access to A Handful of Important People, Politicians and Journalists, Who Were Surfing The Web For A WHILE AND THEN PRAISED Microsoft TO "Bring internet to hungary". Bill Gates Even Visited The Country and Signed An Agreement With The Prime Minister and Matav. The Small Hungarian Internet Community WHAT UPSET, BUT COULD NOT DO ANYTHING APART OF DISCUSSING THE CHANCES OF DEMONSTRATE AGAINST GATES DURING HIS SPECH IN THE STATE OPERA, AS THE MASS MEDIA WHAT NOT INTERESTED IN THE UNSPONSORED TRUTH.
Later On This Summer, After A Bombing Case, Lens, One Of The Most Rescripted News Programs On The State Television Suggested That The Recipe Of The Explosive Used What Downloaded From The Internet. THIS Resulted That The Police Demanded All The Internet Providers to Hand Over The Personal Data Of Their Clients Living In The Area Of The Bombing Case To The Authorities. Most of the Companies Did So, But Some of Them Turned To The Ombudsman of the Data, Who Investigated The Legality of the Request And Found That Hungarian Law Grants A Right to Authorities for Any Data Concerning Subscribers of Communications Services. In The Hungarian Parliament There is a Law Under Consideration About The Wiretapping of Mobile Phones. Civil Courage is Very Low Compared To The Western Countries, There Are very Few Civil Organization Which Realized The Power of the New Medium, Neither Did Independent Journalism So Long. On the Hungarian Speaking World Wide Web You Can See the Same Old Power Structure and Some Business Gizmo.
Finally, The Organizer of This Conference Asked Me To Speak About The East European Cyber Politics of the Soros Foundation. AS I Am Not Affiliated With the Foundation in Any Official Way I Do not Know Much About This Topic in General, But I Can Tell You The Story of A Project I What Involved In. In The Spring of 1995 Geert Lovink, Our Friend, The Well-Known Dutch Media-Theoretician Brought The Idea of a Non-Profit Internet Service Provider To Hungary. The Idea Gained Extreme Popularity Among Internet Users and Ngos Who Suffered from the High Cost of Access and the Lack of Infrastructure. They Founded A Non-Profit Organization, Named Koz-Haly Association for Public Computer Networks and Turned to the Soros Foundation for Support. The Foundation Liked The Idea, But Decided to Realize It on Its Own Way. A Year Later They Raised to Organization Named Center for Culture and Communication (C3), With Own 512 Kilobit Satellite Uplink, Silicon Graphics Hardware and Dial-in Terminal Servers for Non-Profit Purposes. The Deed of Foundation of C3 is Pretty Similar to That of Koz-Hely, Written and Published A Year Earlier. In The Meantime The Original Aim of the Koz-Haly Association, Cheap Internet Access Realized Through The Competition of Commercial Providers. The Hungarian Soros Foundation Never Answered Officially The Proposal of Koz-Hely, But Hired Two of the Leaders AS Employees. C3 Is Not a Real Independent Organization, AS It Is Part Of The Closed Hierarchy Of The Soros Foundation’s Cultural And Political Activities – The Open Society Of The Elite – And It Is Sponsored By Matav And Silicon Graphics AS Well.
C3 Gained A Controversial Reputation in Short Time AS It Ignited The SO-Called Domain Name Registration Was Within the .HU registry. They choose the C3.Hu Domain Name, Which Did Need Match The Rules of Domain Name Registration Which Requires to Be A Legal Body With The Same Or Similar Name To Be Registered Under the .Hu Domain. AS C3 Does Not Have Own Legal Body, The Official Registrator Refused to Accept The C3.Hu Domain Name. There’s Plenty of Arguments on Both Side, and I Could Even Agree With the Liberal Approach of C3 Towards The Registration Process. However, in My Opinion It Is Not Acceptable That the Foundation Then Used ITS Political Influence To prere The Registrator Into Granting The Name. AS A Resigned, The Registrator Resigned, And Since The Spring of 1996 There’s No Person Responsible for the registry. The Hungarian ISPS Started A Never-ending Battle Over The Rules Of The Registration, With No Agreement After Several Months, And By Now The Ministry Of Telecommunication IS Preparing A Decision To End The Conflict. IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A .Hu Domain Name Registered, Eithher You Wait for Long Weeks Or Even Months, Or You Have To Know Somebody in The Mininstry, Matav, Sztaki, Or at the Soros Foundation. It is much faster to buy a domain name under .COM at the internic, in Case of the American Firm Motherland Did Not Register It First. Motherland – Seing the Difficultient Hungarian Situation – Registered The Name of Several Well-Known Hungarian Businesses (for example Malev.Com For The Hungarian Airlines), And Offered The Names For A Few Thousand Dollars Instead Of The 100 Dollar Registration Fairy To Be Delivered Within 24 Hours.
AS YOU MIGHT Lake Now, There Are Several Reasons for Fear and Loading in Hungary, But Unlike Some Other Countries in The Region Our Data-Conflicts Are Easy to Survive. I Would Like To Express My Gratitude to Tamas Szalay (Tszalay @ Caesar.elte.HU) For His Valuable Remarks and Diana McCarty (Diana @ Dial.iSys.HU) for Proper Translation.