Hungary's Orban Misused Voters' Data To Win Elections - Human Rights Watchdog

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 01st December, 2022) Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his government illegally used citizens' personal data to influence their choice in favor of his Fidesz party during the 2022 elections, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.

The authorities used information provided by citizens to register for COVID-19 vaccines, union memberships and other benefits through a government website to boost Fidesz's election campaign by sending those people party program leaflets and other messages endorsing Orban.

"Using people's personal data collected so they could access public services to bombard them with political campaign messages is a betrayal of trust and an abuse of power," Deborah Brown, a senior technology researcher at HRW, said in a statement.

The report also noted that the government's actions had undermined the transparency of the elections and stripped opposition parties of equal opportunities for campaigning, as well as violated Hungarian citizens' right to privacy.

"The Hungarian government should stop exploiting personal data for political campaigns and guarantee a level playing field for elections," Brown said.

However, HRW detected that opposition parties had also resorted to gathering people's personal data and used campaigning on social media for phone calls, SMS spamming and context advertising on Google and Facebook (banned in Russia). At the same time, the human rights watchdog claimed this behavior hadn't distorted the level playing field of Hungarian politics.

The organization also urged the European Union to assess the legality of Orban's government meddling in the elections and take measures, if necessary, to punish Hungary.

The Hungarian parliamentary election took place on April 3, 2022. The ruling Fidesz party won by 52.52% of the votes, while the turnout was 70.21%. Orban, who is party leader, started his fourth consecutive term as Prime Minister of Hungary.