The “leftwing provocateur watch” Facebook page that was announced on Wednesday by Fidelitas president László Böröcz and vice-president Zsófia Koncz has been deleted after legal and civil rights experts and opposition politicians denounced it for violating people’s right of assembly, freedom of speech and right to privacy.
At a press conference held in the Fidesz briefing room, the two recently elected leaders of Fidesz’s youth movement accused “leftwing provocateurs” of heckling Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s March 15 speech. “We don’t want the leftwing parties’ activities of last weekend to become a tradition,” said Böröcz before inviting Fidesz supporters to submit photographs of known leftwing provocateurs to be posted on a “leftwing provocateur ” Facebook page.
The launch of Fidelitas’ “agent provocateur watch group” was immediately condemned by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ), which claimed it violated individuals’ rights and created fear. The Hungarian National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (NAIH) told the Budapest Beacon that such activities amounted to vigilantism, in that the Fidesz youth organization was proposing to “practise their own idea of justice”.
At Wednesday’s press conference, in true Fidesz fashion Koncz turned reality on its head by accusing “leftwing provocateurs” for the fact that a Fidesz sympathiser assaulted a Hungarian journalist by the name of Gábor Kökényesi. Kökényesi told Kettős Mérce (Double Standard):
“I was recording the opposition protesters and the gentleman yelling at them, when the latter realized I was filming him. So he turned to me and told me to stop recording, then started beating me.”
The journalist tried to run away but tripped and fell. The man kept on kicking and hitting him while he was lying on the ground, beating his head on the concrete several times.
Fanny Hidvégi of TASZ told the Budapest Beacon that by law photographers are not required to ask permission to use photographs taken at mass events and public appearances, but that adding a name to a face is a different issue. Photographs of public figures or individuals engaged in public activities such as speaking at a demonstration can be published without permission. Hidvégi said that in addition to violating people’s right to privacy, collecting such data can be used to create fear and discourage people from attending protests by compelling them to exercise a form of “self-control” which, she argues, represents a limit on people’s right of assembly and freedom of speech.
NAIH told the Budapest Beacon that registering and publishing photographs of so-called “provocateurs” offends the rules of data protection, and that it condemns all efforts that tend to distract citizens from freedom of speech.
In response to the deletion of the “leftwing provocateur watch” Facebook page, Böröcs told state news agency MTI he hopes Facebook restores the page because it does not abuse personal data, and that should Facebook fail to do so “we’ll obviously find a place to publish this site”.
The following day it was revealed that the brother of the recently elected Fidelitas president had been awarded five National Tobacco Retailing franchises.