Estonia’s e-government has been widely praised for its simplicity and ease of use. All Estonian citizens are assigned a personal ID code rather than using a social security number, taxpayer number, etc. Secondly, Estonia uses Public-key infrastructure (PKI) which allows citizens to be able to have a “signature” for government transactions. This digital signature has been applied to mobile phones and ID cards allow Estonians to be able to electronically vote, file taxes, maintain business and property records, and register births and deaths.
There are obvious positive attributes to Estonia’s system such as ease of use, cost savings, convenience for citizens, and better record keeping. Citizens of Estonia can still perform government transactions by paper if they would like. On a higher theoretical level, having this electronic type of government makes it hard for a state to dissolve or be invaded as government could still function as long as citizens still had access to the internet (http://www.bhorowitz.com/estonia_the_little_country_that_cloud).
Potential negatives concern privacy and security risks in a system like this. Estonians are able to decide if the government has access to their health records and can receive records of who accessed their data and when, but, in some cases, there is no law that prevents the state from accessing their information. In addition, there are security risks on a personal and national level. The Cyberwar of 2007 prevent Estonia from accessing the internet for several hours.
It is clear other world governments could learn a lot from how Estonia has implemented their e-government. Many complications could arise and much change is required in order to implement this type of system or even elements from this system – however the rewards could outweigh the risks.
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