ISIL says its latest U.S. weapons were donations: ‘Spoils of war for the holy warriors’

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NICOSIA — Islamic State of Iraq and Levant continues to gain control of advanced U.S. weapons.

ISIL said it captured U.S. military equipment in northern Syria. The equipment, dropped by U.S. Air Force planes, was meant for Kurdish fighters in the Kobane enclave near the Turkish border.

WeaponsDrop 300x168 ISIL says its latest U.S. weapons were donations: ‘Spoils of war for the holy warriors’“Weapons and munitions dropped by American planes and landed in the areas controlled by the Islamic State in Kobane,” ISIL said.

On Oct. 21, ISIL, which launched an offensive in Kobane, released a video that showed U.S. rockets and grenades meant for Kurdish fighters. The video also displayed a large amount of U.S. equipment.
“These are the bombs that the American forces dropped for the Kurdish parties,” an ISIL fighter said. “They are spoils of war for the holy warriors.”

The United States has reported an airlift of weapons and supplies for Kurdish fighters in Kobane. The airlift has been accompanied by daily air strikes on ISIL positions.

Washington has not acknowledged the ISIL seizure of U.S. weapons in northern Syria. But the Syrian opposition said ISIL might have captured equipment from several U.S. air drops.

“We hope for more [air drops of weapons],” Kurdish militia spokesman Redur Xelil said.

“We feel very confident that, when we air drop support as we did into Kobane we’ve been able to hit the target in terms of reaching the people we want to reach,” White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said.

ISIL has captured thousands of U.S. main battle tanks, artillery, armored personnel carriers and combat vehicles. The opposition said ISIL has also acquired at least three Syrian Air Force fighter-jets.

“ISIL forces continue to threaten [Kobane],” U.S. Defense Department spokesman John Kirby said. “We’re continuing to hit targets in and around there to help the Kurdish forces as they continue to fight against ISIL. So it’s still a very mixed, contested environment.”

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From one in the know: Snowden is a traitor and likely ‘agent of Vladimir Putin’

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Brett M Decker, Radix

Charlie Speight is a retired executive from the National Security Agency, which he joined in 1975. During his time at the NSA, he was a National Intelligence Officer, analyst, watch officer, operational staff officer, interagency liaison, senior editor in the Strategic Communications Directorate, and communications officer for the NSA Director. Unsurprisingly, there isn’t a lot of public information available about someone who spent 35 years as a secret squirrel. Mr. Speight’s Twitter bio simply states, “I know things.� Below is an exclusive interview about what he knows:

Decker: The theft and disclosure of classified information are generically and simplistically referred to as “leaks� by the media. This sounds relatively benign and plays into the narrative that flagrant espionage is really nothing more than a case of a well-intentioned whistleblower trying to stop bureaucratic abuse. What’s wrong with this picture? How are the national-security apparatus and U.S. military operational effectiveness affected by this spy game?

Speight: Often it’s merely the simple knowledge of an activity that is damaging. When it was mentioned by a congressman that the United States was listening to Osama bin Laden’s satellite phone calls, bin Laden stopped using that phone as well as other types of electronic communication assuming he was being monitored. That “leak� delayed finding him by years.

Snowden 300x199 From one in the know: Snowden is a traitor and likely ‘agent of Vladimir Putin’The infamous Walker spy family stole vital U.S. naval data and provided it to the Soviet Union giving them information on weapons systems, training, readiness and U.S. and allied tactics. There are other examples from the Rosenbergs to Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen in which American defense capabilities were compromised and, in doing so, our adversaries were given information that helped them advance their own.

The difference between the classic espionage cases and Edward Snowden is that Snowden didn’t just steal documents – and on a scale that dwarfs all others – but he publically portrayed himself as a “whistleblower,� an altruistic champion of citizen rights. This twist is an attempt to make NSA the bad guy. It’s a PR campaign to cover his true intent and to neutralize Russia’s greatest fear and it’s most ominous obstacle: U.S. intelligence.

Decker: You previously told me that, “It is reasonable to assume that Vladimir Putin is giving information obtained via Snowden to ISIS or al Qaeda so they can damage U.S. infrastructure as his proxy.� In what ways are America’s enemies taking advantage of insights they now have into the strategic and tactical readiness of the United States and its allies?

Speight: The crown jewels of any intelligence organization are its sources and methods – the means by which information is obtained. I have no doubts that, thanks to Edward Snowden, Russia and China now have an extraordinary volume of data on NSAs sources and methods for collecting information from communications. That means they now know the weaknesses in their and other of our adversaries’ communications procedures and our strengths in exploiting them.

And not just voice communications, but also radar, telemetry, missile and rocket command and response, military GPS locationing and weapons systems countermeasures. On far too many subjects, Russia and probably China know what we know about them and about ourselves.

This compromise puts at risk our troops on the ground, ships at sea, our air forces, our command and control, military alliances and, as we’ve seen recently, even our banking system. As if that wasn’t bad enough, to mitigate the damage, the United States will have to spend multiple billions of dollars to change our own military and financial systems to prevent what are now critical weaknesses in our national defense. So will our allies.

Decker: The general impression out there is that the NSA has been vacuuming up every detail about private citizens’ personal lives, from email and phone conversations to bank-account information and everyday consumer transactions. The perceived purpose is not only to prevent terrorist activity but also for the federal government to keep tabs on the population. How do you explain NSA data-collection operations, and what are the implications for individual civil liberties?

Speight: The “digital age� means that everyone now communicates on the same worldwide grid. THIS is where the bad guys live. They communicate, educate, recruit, surveil and steal on the same networks used by American schools, churches and individuals. The volume of telephone and internet traffic is mind-boggling, and it grows every year. Text messages and emails sent every year numbers in the trillions. There are more cellphones in the United States than there are people, and if just one-third of those phones make ONE 60-second call in a 24-hour period, it would generate 205 YEARS of conversation PER DAY – every day. As for email, at least 300 billion are sent daily (3.4 million every second), 80-90% of which are spam and viruses.

The point is that the mass of information through which the National Security Agency must sift in pursuit of real threats is so astronomical that collecting all email and listening to all phone calls is more than just illegal, it’s not possible, efficient, smart or worthwhile. NSA has no interest in pumpkin-pie recipes, breakup stories, gossip, pictures of your lunch, drunk calls to ex-girlfriends or details of your trip to Disney World. It is trying to find bad guys.

When comparing the allegations to reality, only the uniformed, the politically motivated or the nefarious would conclude that NSA is monitoring the population. Not only is it technologically impossible, there is no reason to do it.

Decker: We’ve all heard horror stories about federal officials using classified files and surveillance technology to do background checks on dates or keep an eye on their wives. A few bad apples really can spoil the bunch, at least as far as public opinion. Can you detail what hasn’t gotten as much publicity regarding the NSA’s mission and how analysts work to achieve it?

Speight: A very few people – I think the number is in the single digits – have violated NSA’s rules on privacy. Their activity was immediately noticed and shut down and the violators quickly dealt with. NSA has very strict procedures in place and enforced to prevent illegal actions. The sanctity of the Fourth Amendment is paramount at NSA and is drilled into every employee from the first day on the job and repeatedly thereafter. NSAers are required to review legal procedures and protocols every year and reminders of the agency’s commitment to the law from the Director and other leaders are routine. In fact, an employee’s adherence to reviewing those protocols is a factor in their personnel assessment.

NSA’s mission is much more than a terrorist-monitoring agency. It is the world’s premiere code-making and code-breaking operation. It protects America’s government communications from being compromised, and it develops the means to break the codes of adversaries. This includes our country’s nuclear codes. In this effort, NSA employs more mathematicians than any other organization in the world and the top computer and network engineers, programmers and analysts.

The agency does its intelligence work in response to requirements put to it by other departments in the executive branch. The mission is massive and it requires an army of linguists, engineers of all disciplines, financial experts, cryptanalysts, digital forensicists, intelligence analysts, military specialists, psychologists, chemists and many more. These are truly dedicated professionals and they recognize the critical nature of their work.

I started with NSA at the end of the Vietnam War. It was an open secret that NSA led the government in divorces and suicides during the war, so demanding was the work and so stressful was the dedication to keeping the work secret. People couldn’t go home and vent or otherwise talk about their day. They knew how important it was to assist our troops and to provide critical communications support and intelligence to our military and political leadership. Those necessities remain as does the dedication, but the agency has learned to recognize and address workforce stress and help those who need it. Imagine, then, the betrayal felt by the NSA workforce when a contractor steals their work and takes it to our greatest national adversary.

Decker: There is considerable sentiment within factions of the left and right that Edward Snowden is a hero. That’s not your conclusion. Why not, and what do you think should happen to him?

Speight: Snowden has created a situation in which both the far right, particularly libertarians, and the left can coexist in their furor. The right considers this another Obama grab for our freedom and that by attacking NSA they are attacking President Obama. Their perception of Obama as a socialist coupled with revelations about the IRS, Fast and Furious, Benghazi and Bowe Bergdahl fits in nicely with the acceptance of Snowden’s allegations and the idea that NSA is a tool of the president’s agenda. The left is always up for any hint of civil rights violations, and it has never liked the military or intelligence services. Since NSA is part of the Department of Defense, that’s an added check mark on their list of enemies.

Edward Snowden stole thousands of highly classified digital documents from America’s most sensitive source of intelligence. He ran like the thief he is to not just any foreign country, but to our two greatest foreign national adversaries: China and Russia. He has publicized a miniscule number of those documents and no doubt provided to those two foreign powers information of critical national security. He has done this, I believe, as an agent of Vladimir Putin, in such a way as to make himself a sympathetic figure. With misguided public sympathy on his side and strictures on the Intelligence Community that won’t allow it to introduce or even discuss classified information in public, a trial would be unlikely to deliver the justice he and our country deserve.

There is no punishment commensurate with his betrayal, but there are things I would like see happen to him. I’ll leave it at that.

Brett M. Decker, former Editorial Page Editor at The Washington Times, is consulting director at the White House Writers Group and author of Bowing to Beijing. He, is a former senior vice president for the Export-Import Bank and an editor at the Asia Wall Street Journal.

Originally published at Radix

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Xi tightens controls on Mainland campuses in wake of Hong Kong’s mass demonstrations

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By Willy Lam,

President Xi Jinping has tightened ideological control over teachers, writers and intellectuals in the wake of the “Umbrella Revolution� in Hong Kong.

Anti ChinaWind 300x192 Xi tightens controls on Mainland campuses in wake of  Hong Kong’s mass demonstrations

Beijing fears the mass demonstrations in Hong Kong could spread to Mainland campuses. /

The General Office of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee issued a circular earlier this week affirming party leadership over the nation’s universities. The circular noted that the Party committees of colleges must ensure overall control over professors and students.

“We must uphold the principle of the party’s control over personnel,� the circular said. In language that is reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution, it added that the party committee should “provide leadership over ideological and political work within universities… so that the brains of teachers and students will be armed with the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics.�

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U.S. set to sell emergency ammo for Iraq’s remaining U.S. tanks

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WASHINGTON — The United States plans to sell munitions for Iraq’s main battle tank fleet which sustained heavy losses to the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant this summer..

The State Department has approved an Iraqi request for munitions for the U.S.-origin M1A1 fleet. Under the request, the Iraq Army would receive nearly 50,000 shells for an unspecified number of Abrams.

Abrams 300x199 U.S. set to sell emergency ammo for Iraq’s remaining U.S. tanks

Newly-arrived U.S. Abrams tanks in Iraq in 2011.

“The proposed sale of the ammunition and support will advance Iraq’s efforts to develop an integrated ground defense capability to support a strong national defense,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said.

“This will enable the Iraqi government to sustain its efforts to establish and maintain stability.”

The Iraqi request was the second that sought to compensate for losses in the offensive by ISIL in June 2014. ISIL seized thousands of U.S.-origin MBTs, armored personnel carriers, artillery and combat vehicles from Iraq Army bases around the northern city of Mosul.

Baghdad has also sought to replenish its supply of AGM-114K Hellfire missiles. In July, Iraq submitted a request for 5,000 Hellfire missiles in a proposed $700 million deal.

In a statement on Oct. 20, DSCA said the latest Iraqi request was worth $600 million. The request cited 120 mm shells, produced by General Dynamics Ordnance Tactical Systems, identified as the prime contractor.

“Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of U.S. government and contractor representatives to Iraq,” DSCA said. “There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.”

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Google launches new email service dubbed ‘Inbox’

(Reuters) – Google Inc launched an email service called “Inbox” on Wednesday that will better organize emails and display information such as appointments, flight bookings and package deliveries in a more user-friendly way.

Google said it was sending out invitations to selected Gmail users to try out the new service. Users can also email the company at to get an invitation.

For now the new service is being provided alongside Gmail, which was launched in 2004. It will be available on the Web as well as on Android smartphones and iPhones.

“Inbox is by the same people who brought you Gmail, but it’s not Gmail: it’s a completely different type of inbox, designed to focus on what really matters,” the company said in a blog post.

Google said Inbox displays real-time updates to emails – for example, showing the delivery status of items bought online.

It also shows reminders in a more accessible way that allows users to more easily keep track of chores and appointments.

The company said the new application also enhances features that are already available in Gmail that allow users to view purchases and bank account statements grouped together.

Google’s shares were up 1.7 percent at $547.33 in early afternoon trading Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Soham Chatterjee in Bangalore; Editing by Ted Kerr)

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Angie’s List adds fewer members; shares plunge

By Sai Sachin R

(Reuters) – Angie’s List Inc, which operates a website that allows users to review local businesses, reported a bigger-than- expected quarterly loss as it added fewer paid members.

The company’s shares fell as much as 20 percent, adding to their steady decline through the year. Up to Tuesday’s close, they had nearly halved in value this year.

The company has been losing market share and subscribers because it charges customers membership fees to access reviews and ratings on its site that Yelp Inc, TripAdvisor Inc and others provide for free.

As a result it has had to slash membership fees over the past few years and has failed to turn in a profit since it went public in 2011.

Angie’s List said on Wednesday gross paid membership additions for the third quarter ended Sept. 30 fell 6 percent from a year earlier.

It also forecast lower-than-expected fourth-quarter revenue of $80-$82 million, blaming an “unfavorable trend” in its e-commerce business.

The company’s e-commerce unit offers the “Big Deal” product – daily discount deals emailed to members.

Analysts were expecting fourth-quarter revenue of $84.2 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The weak results come on the back of reports that the company could be exploring a sale.

The Financial Times reported last month that Angie’s List was exploring strategic options, including a possible sale. (

“Angie’s List stock today is giving back much of the increase that it enjoyed from the recent ‘shopping itself’ rumor, which management neither confirmed nor denied on the (conference) call,” Barrington Research Associates analyst Jeff Houston said.

The company reported a net loss of $5.2 million, or 9 cents per share, for the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with the average analyst estimate of a loss of 6 cents per share.

Revenue rose 24 percent to $81.3 million. Analysts on average had expected $81.6 million.

Shares of the company were down 19 percent at $6.67 in early afternoon trade on the Nasdaq. Up to Tuesday’s close, the stock had lost 70 percent of its value since touching a life-high in July 2013.

(Additional reporting by Supantha Mukherjee; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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Pope Francis plays long game to reform Catholic Church

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – After winning praise around the world for his fresh and open style, the honeymoon period seems to be over for Pope Francis.

A tumultuous two-week Vatican synod exposed polarization in the Catholic Church over his push to reform its traditional approach to sexual morality by becoming more welcoming to gays and easing restrictions on divorced and remarried Catholics.

A Jesuit unafraid of frank debate, Francis has set off a clash of opinions not seen since the reformist Second Vatican Council of 1962-1965. Rather than impose his views as a pope can, he has chosen the difficult path to reform by opting to have his bishops freely discuss Catholic teaching on sex.

The pope won a standing ovation from almost 200 bishops at the synod’s close on Saturday and general support for his reform drive. But a vocal minority, backed by what one cardinal called a “massive wave of attacks” on the pope from traditionalist media, emerged to block some of the reform proposals.

The synod will meet again in October 2015 to make its final recommendations to the pope. In the meantime, he is counting on discussions among Catholics to increase support for reforms. His critics say they will use the time to rally against them.

“The pope has put his authority on the line,” said French Vatican expert Jean-Marie Guenois, author of the new book Jusqu’ou ira Francois? (How Far Will Francis Go?). “If he fails to find a solution, it will be his failure.”

Massimo Faggioli, a church historian at Saint Thomas University in Minnesota, saw “different Catholic cultures” emerging and said keeping them together “is going to be the biggest gamble for Francis in the next 12 months.

“It could become more difficult for him to speak to all Catholics,” he said, adding some conservatives nostalgic for his more doctrinaire predecessors John Paul and Benedict “will think he should leave right away”.


The bishops are meant to continue discussions with clergy and laity in their dioceses before the second synod meets. Francis said the process would allow ideas to “mature,” without saying exactly what he wanted to see emerge from the process.

The challenge will be to find a consensus among mostly westerners open to changing lifestyles and traditionalists. The latter are especially strong in Africa where the Church is growing, homosexuality is seen as taboo and polygamy rather than divorce or cohabitation is the main problem for Catholic marriage.

“What the Catholic Church is trying to do is a sociological adventure,” Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx, a senior advisor to Francis, said during the synod.

“Finding a common language on such existential themes as sexuality and marriage in Africa, Asia, Manhattan and (the Roman district of) Trastevere is actually not possible,” he said.

When Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope in March 2013, his fellow cardinals gave him a clear mandate to clean up the Vatican’s murky finances, reorganize the Curia bureaucracy and deal with the crisis of priests sexually abusing minors.

But the former archbishop of Buenos Aires had even wider ambitions, including a less imperial papacy and more mercy for the divorced, gays or unmarried couples living together despite the Church’s traditional disapproval.

“Who am I to judge?” he said of gay Catholics in July 2013, comments that clearly signaled the new tone at the Vatican, even though he declared he would not change age-old doctrines.

An unprecedented global survey Francis ordered last year showed widespread disagreement with Church teaching on sex, especially among the young in western countries.

The frank survey became the basis for debate at the synods, whereas previous synods had been carefully managed affairs with little real debate.


After his election last year, many Catholic traditionalists argued Francis’ papacy was a continuation of Benedict’s. Among their proofs was his opposition to far-reaching reforms such as ordaining women priests or approving of abortion.

But as preparations for the synod progressed, they saw his open approach resembled that of the 1960’s Council, known among Catholics as “Vatican II”, which they blame for many modern problems in the Church. John Paul and Benedict spent years redefining the Council’s legacy in a more conservative way.

They began to organize.

Five cardinals, including Francis’s own doctrinal watchdog Gerhard Mueller, published a book arguing that easing a ban on divorced and remarried Catholics receiving the sacraments was impossible because Jesus himself condemned divorce.

During the synod, arch-conservative Catholics, many from the United States and Africa, complained the meeting was stage-managed to approve liberal reforms. U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, the Vatican’s top judge, accused the pope of harming the Church.

When an interim text said the Church should welcome gays and accept homosexuality, they had the English translation watered down even though the Italian original remained the official one.

In the end, the bishops agreed to almost all the synod proposals except three dealing with gays and divorced Catholics, even though they had been toned down from the interim text.

Francis unexpectedly left the three rejected paragraphs in the final document and published the usually secret vote totals to show they fell just short of the two-thirds majority needed to be accepted, thereby ensuring they would stay in the debate and have a chance of approval by the next synod.

Despite his deft bending of the rules, it is not clear exactly how much reform Francis wants or what he will decide.

Predicting outcomes is further complicated by the fact that not all delegates to the next synod will be the same as the first.

Francis ended the synod with a moving address warning traditionalists against “hostile inflexibility” and liberals against a destructive “do-gooder” approach.

Ute Eberl, a German family counselor attending the synod, said the session aimed to get the Church “out of its comfort zone … to hear about real life for families around the world”.

After hearing the pope’s final address to the bishops and their five-minute standing ovation in response, she said: “Pope Francis’s plan is working.”

(Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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EMC to buy much of Cisco’s stake in joint venture VCE

(Reuters) – Data storage products maker EMC Corp said it will buy much of Cisco System Inc’s stake in their joint venture VCE for an undisclosed sum.

VCE, set up in 2009 as a one-stop shop for data centers, bundles Cisco’s networking equipment and servers with EMC’s storage gear and software from EMC’s virtualization software unit VMware Inc.

Reports of EMC and Cisco encroaching on each other’s turfs had sparked speculation that the partnership was fraying. Cisco, which had a 35 percent stake in the joint venture, will retain a 10 percent stake in VCE.

EMC said it will merge VCE into its business, but this will have no impact on its 2014 results.

“We view the Cisco/VCE news as a ‘yawner’ given that EMC right now is facing a plethora of growth and strategic challenges and the last thing on investors’ minds is the future of VCE,” FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives wrote in a note to clients.

Activist investor Elliott Management has been pushing hard for EMC to pursue merger or spinoff opportunities.

Paul Singer, another activist investor, asked the company earlier this month to separate its VMware subsidiary.

EMC, which cut its full-year profit forecast on Wednesday, had contributed $1.26 billion in funding to VCE since inception and owned about 58 percent of the joint venture as of June 30.

EMC’s plan to buy Cisco’s stake in VCE was first reported by Bloomberg on Tuesday.

(Reporting By Kanika Sikka and Supantha Mukherjee in Bangalore; Editing by Feroze Jamal)

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Hungary plans new tax on Internet traffic, public calls for rally

By Marton Dunai

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungary plans to impose a new tax on Internet data transfers, a draft 2015 tax bill submitted to parliament late on Tuesday showed, in a move that could hit Internet and telecoms providers and their customers hard.

The draft tax code contains a provision for Internet providers to pay a tax of 150 forints (60 US cents) per gigabyte of data traffic, though it would also let companies offset corporate income tax against the new levy.

Within hours of the tax provision being published over 100,000 people joined a Facebook group protesting the levy, which they fear providers will pass on to them. Thousands said they would rally against the tax, which they said was excessive, outside the Economy Ministry on Sunday.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has in the last few years imposed special taxes on the banking, retail and energy sectors as well as on telecommunications providers to keep the budget deficit in check, jeopardizing profits in some sectors of the economy and unnerving international investors.

Economy Minister Mihaly Varga defended the move on Tuesday, saying communications technology has changed the way people use telecom services and therefore the tax code needed to be changed. His ministry said it expects the tax to generate annual revenue of 20 billion forints.

However, fixed-line Internet traffic in Hungary reached 1.15 billion gigabytes in 2013 and mobile internet added 18 million gigabytes, which would generate revenue of 175 billion forints under the new tax according to consultancy firm eNet.

Traffic has probably grown since, eNet partner Gergely Kis told Reuters, so the tax could hit Internet providers by more than 200 billion forints, if left unaltered.

The entire internet service sector’s annual revenue came to 164 billion forints at the end of 2013, according to the Central Statistics Office (KSH).

The government’s low estimate of revenue suggests it will impose a cap on the amount of tax any single Internet provider will have to pay, and in view of the public reaction the ruling Fidesz party asked the government to set a maximum level on the tax payable by individuals.

“The Fidesz parliament group insists that the data traffic tax be paid by service providers, therefore we propose changes to the bill,” Fidesz parliament group leader Antal Rogan said in an emailed statement.

“We think it is practical to introduce an upper limit in the same fashion and same magnitude that applied to voice-based telephony previously.”

Under the current tax code private individuals’ tax payments are maximized at a monthly 700 forints ($2.9) while companies cannot pay more than 5,000 forints a month.

A government spokesman was not immediately available for comment.


Analysts at Equilor Securities said on Wednesday that the Internet service market leader, Deutsche Telekom’s subsidiary Magyar Telekom could expect to pay about 10 billion forints if there was no limit on the proposed tax.

“Although corporate taxes offset this amount Magyar Telekom has paid only 200-300 million forints worth of such tax in recent years because its parent company used tax breaks,” Equilor noted.

“The company could theoretically pass on the burden to its clients but that requires a business policy decision so it’s too early to say much about that. The tax could, however, boost uncertainty about a resumption of dividend payments at Magyar Telekom.”

Magyar Telekom recently said it would pay no dividend for 2014 in order to keep its debt in check.

The company said the “drastic” new tax threatened to undermine planned investments in broadband network infrastructure, and called for the proposal to be withdrawn. It said industry players were not consulted about the idea.

Magyar Telekom shares were down 2.9 percent at 1221 GMT (0821 EDT), underperforming the blue chip index, which was down 0.3 percent.

The Association of IT, Telecommunications and Electronics Companies said in a statement on Wednesday that the tax would force them to hike prices, which would reflect in consumer prices in general and hinder economic growth.

“The real losers of the Internet tax are not the Internet companies but their clients, users, and all Hungarians who would now access the services they have used much more expensively, or in an extreme case, not at all,” the Association said.

Balazs Nemes, one of those who began the Facebook page protesting the move, said: “In more developed nations, broadband Internet access is considered part of human rights.

“Only the darkest dictatorships want to control the Internet either financially or with raw power,” he said.

“We pay VAT, the Internet service providers pay corporate taxes, so what justifies making web use a luxury when we do basic things like arranging medical appointments, university applications or banking online?”

(1 US dollar = 240.75 Hungarian forint)

(Reporting by Marton Dunai and Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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How Barack Obama’s unpopularity is affecting the midterm election in 60 seconds

If the Democrats lose the Senate, it will likely see Mr Obama reduced to a
lame duck President unable to push forward his own agenda.

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