PALO ALTO, Calif.—One week ago, Estonia launched its “e-resident” program, allowing non-resident non-citizens to obtain a digital identification card issued by the Estonian government. Today, its prime minister turned up in the heart of Silicon Valley to pitch the program.
Estonia is a post-Soviet country in Northern Europe that regained its independence in 1991, and it has become a tech powerhouse in recent years. It is the home of Skype, its citizens have their own digital ID cards (which power its famous online voting system), it has a burgeoning startup scene, and it is the home of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence.
Estonian ID cards use open-source public key-private key encryption (upgraded in 2011 to 2048-bit), which allows government agencies to perform various secure functions online connected with a citizen’s identity. Functions include financial transactions, public transportation tickets, and student university admission records among other things.
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