Forbes also removed the names of Hell Energy's owners from the online version of its richest Hungarians list. A preliminary injunction issued by a Budapest court led to the printed magazine's recall, but a court case about the publication of the names was just starting, Forbes said.
Forbes said that if other courts used such an “extreme” interpretation of European Union data protection and privacy rules, it would damage press freedom and “will fill newspapers with PR articles instead of real articles.”
The EU's General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, has been in effect since mid-2018. “If this interpretation of the law is generalized, business journalism will be made impossible in Hungary,” Marton Galambos, editor-in-chief of Forbes' Hungarian edition, said in a statement. “According to the current reasoning of the court, in the case of every article permission would have to be sought ...before writing down the name of any business leader.”
Only one of the owners of Hell Energy made the Forbes list, coming in at No. 26 with an estimated fortune of 48.5 billion forints ($158 million.) In earlier articles, that person's family was also named among the company's owners. At least one of the family members is a co-plaintiff in the Forbes litigation.
Forbes said that since Hell Energy received state subsidies, the owner should naturally be expected to agree to at least minimal public identification.