Estonia: World’s First Virtual Data Embassy

Agence France-Presse

Cyber-savvy Estonia is taking a step forward in global technology, with the small Baltic state opening the world’s first data embassy in Luxembourg early in 2018.

The heavily protected server room contains important Estonian e-government records, so the NATO and eurozone member can access them even when systems are inoperative at home. 

“Data security and cyber security are generally crucial from the perspective of both people’s confidence and the functioning of services,” Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas said in June 2017.

Ratas released the statement after signing an agreement with his Luxembourg counterpart, Xavier Bettel, on housing Estonian data there. 

The country of 1.3 million people has been dubbed E-stonia for being a technological trailblazer. In 1991, after five decades of Soviet rule, Estonia opted to go high-tech as fast as possible. Its adoption of advanced technology has outpaced that of other members of the European Union, which it joined in 2004.

The Baltic state has made most public services accessible at a special state portal and pioneered e-voting in 2005.

Its capital, Tallinn, is home to the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, where data experts from Europe and the United States work to protect the information networks of the alliance’s 29 member states. 

The data embassy in Luxembourg will back up government records regarding taxes, land, businesses, identity documents, pensions, legislation and the census. 

“The virtual data embassy’s main goal is to guarantee the country’s digital continuity: the capacity to start the systems when necessary and retrieve data from externally stored versions,” said Emilie Toomela, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Economics and Communication.

“Luxembourg was chosen for the state-owned high-security, Tier 4 certified data centers the likes of which Estonia does not have and also because Luxembourg is ready to guarantee diplomatic privileges to Estonian data and infosystems,” she added.