a skyline view of a city in estonia

Electronic Residency in E-Estonia

I am not sure if this is on your radar but I think it is really cool.

An e-resident will be a physical person who has received the e-resident’s digital identity (smart ID-card) from the Republic of Estonia.

The basic idea is that you can become an electronic resident of the country of Estonia. This does not give you full citizenship or even the same thing as physical residency status. It enables you to access Estonia government services online and smooths out the ability to conduct business in Estonia and throughout the European Union.

My Take

My attraction to this idea stems from some ventures I have worked on in the past. When I was on the Board of Trustees of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, we deliberated at length about having an electronic-only membership in the organization. If you were willing to limit your access to the Institute’s products and services through the web site, you could get a significant discount on dues. For international members, this was a very attractive option.

I was also involved in a conference planning committee that developed an electronic-only attendee option. If you were willing to watch all of the talks through on-line video streaming and access the conference Proceedings online, you got a reduced registration fee.

So when I heard about the Estonia plan, I realized that I interact mostly with the US and Massachusetts governments only online. I submit my taxes, renew my driver’s license and passport; I would even vote online if I could. And BTW, you can vote online in Estonia. The exception is the physical infrastructure – of course I use the roads and bridges. And I benefit from the national defense and diplomacy investments. But those are somewhat indirect. Anyway, it got me thinking.

Your Turn

How come Estonia is a generation ahead of us? It is easier rolling out some of these when you are small and densely populated, but the e-residency isn’t dependent on that. Would you do everything online if you could?

Image credit: Poco a poco

One thought on “Electronic Residency in E-Estonia”

  1. There are people in the US working on this. See the White House’s US Digital Service, GSA’s 18F, and the Center for Civic Design.

    Estonia has a population less than that of New Hampshire. Scale is where things get complicated. If you really want to see some interesting progress, look at the UK Gov’t’s Digital Service (GDS).

    Lots of people have been working on internet voting. The problem right now is security. You can have secure ballots. Or you can have anonymous (“secret”) ballots. But you can’t have both. (Bank transactions are secure, but not anonymous.)

    Texas has an interesting project in the works where you will vote with an app, print out your ballot, and bring it to the polling place most convenient to you. That seems like interesting compromise.

    BTW, in the last election, Estonia’s online voting was hacked.

    The folks working on this stuff are looking for help. Reach out to them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *