Saturday, September 6, 2014

Who Defends the Virtual Countries of Tomorrow? (Estonia's digital citizenship)

From Defense One:
Does a virtual country still need real military protection? And if so, who provides it?
Short answer: Yes, and the United States.

President Barack Obama made a visit to Estonia on Wednesday where he praised the country’s government in unsubtle terms as a core NATO ally. “As a high-tech leader, Estonia is also playing a leading role in protecting NATO from cyber threats,” he said. “Estonia is an example of how every NATO member needs to do its fair share for our collective defense.”

Estonia serves as the host of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. In many ways, it’s NATO’s cyber tip of the spear in Europe. It’s also a world leader in e-governance. Citizens have unprecedented access to health, education, and government services online and can even exercise their right to vote digitally. But it’s also becoming a country within a country.

In May, the government of Estonia announced the launch of a “digital country” initiative. Beginning next year, the country will allow anyone who can pass a quick  background and identity check at an Estonian Embassy to become a digital citizen of Estonia and get an ID card. Estonia’s future e-citizens can open bank accounts, start online business headquartered there, pay taxes online or reinvest in the country tax free. It could be a model revenue-generating scheme for countries all around the world. More importantly, it could significantly increase Estonia’s geopolitical clout.

Siim Sikkut, a government policy advisor in charge of the new e-citizen effort, believes that the number of virtual citizens could top ten million by 2025, a huge increase over the roughly country’s current 1.3 million person population.

Here’s why virtual countries, and digital citizens, matter to U.S. security: a country with an increasingly antagonistic relationship with Russia is about to grow its cyber profile by a factor of more than seven and they’ll be looking to the United States for protection....MUCH MORE
A couple posts on the digital country idea:
From Estonian World:
Estonia plans to create 10 million “e-Estonians” by 2025
The Estonian government has approved the concept of issuing digital IDs to non-residents, meaning from the end of 2014, foreigners will be able to receive a secure Estonian e-identity, forging a unique opportunity to create a new set of remotely usable global services.
According to Taavi Kotka, the Deputy Secretary General on ICT at the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs, the aim of the project “is to make Estonia great: make sure that at least 10 million people around the world choose to associate with Estonia via e-identities”.

“Estonian citizens are able to perform nearly every public and private sector transaction in digital form, including signing any document. Until now, this ability has not extended to foreigners who are permanent residents of countries other than Estonia,” Kotka said.

To include foreigners, on 24 April the Estonian government approved the concept of issuing digital IDs to non-residents. “This forms a basis for the growth of the international competitiveness of the Estonian state in the fields of economy, science, education, health care, etc,” according to Kotka.

“For example, the adoption of non-resident ID cards is an additional argument in favour of investing in Estonia. Today, it is difficult for a foreign investor to actively participate in the executive management of a company. The non-resident ID card and digital signature would provide the necessary flexibility.”
Kotka pointed out that in addition, reinvested profit is tax-free in Estonia, and the highly developed e-banking environment gives users immediate control of their assets from a distance. “This means that Estonia has the potential to be attractive to entrepreneurs who need an investment account and this would result in additional customers and capital for Estonian businesses.”...MORE
ZDNet Security said:
'This is so freaking huge man, it's insane': The plan to let anyone become European – digitally