20. Estonia a Global Example of E-Government, Digital Freedom, Privacy, and Security

by Project Censored
Published: Updated:

Since Estonia regained independence in 1991, its government has sought to redesign the nation’s entire information infrastructure with goals of openness, privacy, and security. The technology platform that Estonia built to serve its citizens sets an example for the rest of the world. Each citizen has one identification number to use across all systems, from paper passport to bank records to any government office or medical care. This includes giving electronic signatures, filing taxes, and voting. Estonians elect their parliament online, and get their taxes back in two days.

The liquid movement of data, along with privacy and security measures, are of primary importance. Citizens have the ability to choose who can see their information. A citizen cannot block the state from seeing their data, but they can see who has accessed their data and file an inquiry to have an official fired if their information is accessed without valid reason.

Estonia is a world leader in cybersecurity and home of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Cyber Defense Center. The United States can learn a lot from Estonia, Ben Horowitz and Sten Tamkivi have suggested: get the key infrastructure right, instead of building websites to try to manage large public projects (e.g. HeathCare.gov), and respect citizens’ privacy while being transparent and innovative. Estonia shows how this is possible.

Source: Ben Horowitz and Sten Tamkivi, “Estonia: The Little Country that Cloud,” Ben’s Blog, January 27, 2014, http://www.bhorowitz.com/estonia_the_little_country_that_cloud.

Student Researcher: Ashley Ibarra (San Francisco State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows (San Francisco State University)