One-sidedness and methodological deficiencies in Freedom House's latest report on internet freedom

Published: 8 December 2023

According to the analysis of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH), the Freedom on the Net 2023 report, which assesses the situation of internet freedom in Hungary, is one-sided and methodologically deficient, similar to previous years.

The NMHH continuously monitors the various reports on the situation of media freedom in Hungary with the aim of contributing to a factual and professional assessment of the issues under examination. With this in mind, the Authority prepared the analysis of Freedom House's Freedom on the Net 2023 report.

Given the importance of online publicity, it is a step forward that Freedom House has published a separate publication on different aspects of internet freedom. However, as in previous years, the professional value of the report is reduced by methodological deficiencies and factual errors. The result of 69 out of 100 points, which means "partially free", the same result as last year, was again based on the evaluation of a single person, a staff member of the NGO, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, who is also the author of the textual report.

Despite the occasional acknowledgements, for example in connection with internet access, the enforcement of net neutrality or the possibility to enter the telecommunications market, many of the sources cited come from organs and organisations one-sidedly critical of the media situation in Hungary, and once again, the document presents subjective, unsubstantiated opinions without criticism or presenting dissenting views. An example of this is the opinion of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights: the "media authority under political influence" has also eroded media pluralism and freedom of expression in Hungary.

The 2023 edition of Freedom on the Net includes fewer issues not closely related to the subject of analysis than in previous years; however, it repeatedly deals with events outside the examined period (in this case, between June 2022 and May 2023): for example, in connection with the diversity of online media, it recalls the temporary stop of the Hungarian Nation (a major Hungarian newspaper published in Hungary) in 2018. It is also worth mentioning that the sources used are outdated in some cases, for example, in connection with the access of social groups to the Internet, the report refers to a document published in 2007.

Misstatements recurred for years also appear in this year's edition

For some of the wording of the report, only the contextual clarification is needed to help to fully assess the issue. In many parts of the report, however, there are factual errors that need to be corrected, and on certain issues, such as the independence of the NMHH, the merger investigation of the establishment of KESMA, or the "television frequencies”, misstatements have been recurrent for years.

Overall, it can be concluded that the deficiencies in the methodology of the report and the factual errors in the document questions the professional soundness and balance of the country report.

In the comprehensive analysis published on the NMHH website, more details are available about the media freedom reports issued by Freedom House and other organizations.