The Hungarian parliament recently passed a new national security law that enables the inner circle of the government to spy on people who hold important public offices. Under this law, many government officials must “consent” to being observed in the most intrusive way (phones tapped, homes bugged, email read) for up to two full months each year, except that they won’t know which 60 days they are under surveillance.
Perhaps they will imagine they are under surveillance all of the time. Perhaps that is the point. More than 20 years after Hungary left the world captured in George Orwell’s novel 1984, the surveillance state is back.
Now, if the Fidesz government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán finds something it doesn’t like – and there’s no legal limit to what it may find objectionable – those under surveillance can be fired. The people at the very top of the government are largely exempt from surveillance – but this law hits their deputies, staffers and the whole of the security services, some judges, prosecutors, diplomats, and military officers, as well as a number of “independent” offices that Orbán’s administration is not supposed to control.