Get e-stonianshiped
November 9, 2014 6:30 AM   Subscribe

Become an e-Citizen of Estonia! Estonia is the first country to offer "e-citizenship" (more) and others are looking to follow. "This is the beginning of the erosion of the classic nation-state hegemony.. Estonia's move offers a tantalising hint of a new world order that transcends the nation state." Rights are currently limited (no voting for example) but anyone can apply and there are benefits.
posted by stbalbach (40 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
It sounds like it's sort of a hybrid of the South Korean RRN (when it was used for online use -- it turned out about as well as you could expect, say, requiring providing an SSN to open an online account in the U.S.) and OAuth -- it can be a way for Estonia's domestic businesses to offload (or at least pool) the costs of their authentication processes and security, making it easier to compete internationally.
posted by ardgedee at 6:48 AM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


If American e-Estonians can vote in Eurovision, this changes everything.
posted by delfin at 6:50 AM on November 9, 2014 [71 favorites]


Make sure you read the EULA. I'm pretty sure you become part of an Estonian mafia human bot-net.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:52 AM on November 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


Step 1: open citizenship to everyone
Step 2: implement a military draft
Step 3: ???
posted by blue_beetle at 6:52 AM on November 9, 2014 [16 favorites]


E-residency isn't citizenship – you won't be able to vote, or move there unless you are already entitled to. But it will allow you to access Estonia's excellent online services, such as banking and the incorporation of companies

I guess I'm not getting something here, because I'm not seeing what the advantage is. Does Estonia offer a low-tax business environment maybe?
posted by Dip Flash at 6:54 AM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


We are a country and an Internet Service Provider!

Next: we have always been at war with the citizens of Verizon!
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:54 AM on November 9, 2014 [40 favorites]


When can I join Mr Lee's Greater Hong Kong?
posted by sourwookie at 7:00 AM on November 9, 2014 [54 favorites]


Note that you have to apply in person in Estonia, and if approved, pick it up in person two weeks later. I guess it'll be good for their tourist industry, if not else.
posted by effbot at 7:12 AM on November 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Along the lines of what ardegee says, when this was mentioned in a thread earlier this year what I could track down online appeared to indicate that this is basically part of a marketing campaign by the company that handles large parts of the governmental IT infrastructure in the country. Check out "The e-Estonia brochure" PDF linked to from this page.

So it's cool to see the vertical integration and standardization across a society, but this isn't exactly Neal Stephenson post-nationalism and borderless clades. It's more about making sure that people from neighboring countries are going to be able to pay their parking tickets easily when they're visiting Estonia.
posted by XMLicious at 7:20 AM on November 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


This sounds all well and good, but I'm not sold. Can they take a page from Comcast and start offering bundles?

Like maybe if I pay $20, I get just the citizenship. But if I pay $49.99 (LIMITED BUY SPECIAL OFFER!) I get the citizenship, and the right to ordain weddings. And if I pay $79.87 (TRIPLE HYPER PLAY!), I get a certificate of engineering from the Cyberschool of Digital Webucation, the ability to ordain weddings, and the citizenship, as well as PromoPogs, to be spent for FREE* trials on brands I know and love?
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:20 AM on November 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


Related: an interesting article from some eminent academics basically arguing that Democrats should advocate for a modern caste system to subvert the aversion to immigration of the US right.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 7:21 AM on November 9, 2014


This is the beta version. Wait until at least E-Citizenship 2.1 so they get the bugs worked out and the feature set justifies the investment.

Early adopter citizenship is always a drag: just think of the U.S.! To start, you had to be a white male property owner! We were in beta testing for centuries! (Some say we still are.)
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:22 AM on November 9, 2014 [20 favorites]


Transcend the nation-state! Signup today at https://ecitizen-signup.gov.ee.fbi.gov
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:27 AM on November 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


"...new world order that transcends the nation state"

I don't understand this; isn't e-citizenship the same thing, just in a different form? You're still beholden to some government, right? Are they implying that you'll be able to pick the citizenship that best suits you? Isn't that sort of how it works now? If I like Albanian citizenship better than American, all that's stopping me from renouncing my US citizenship and becoming an Albanian citizen is red tape.

Or is this some new way to market governmental services to non-citizens for revenue purposes?
posted by nerdler at 7:30 AM on November 9, 2014


To apply for one, you need to make visit a Police and Border Guard office in Estonia – there you need to submit an application and provide biometrical data (your facial image and fingerprints) for background check.

Hm.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:31 AM on November 9, 2014


I like it.

I signed Putin up too to save him a little time.
posted by vapidave at 7:34 AM on November 9, 2014 [15 favorites]


That article advocating for Dubai style guest worker arrangements could have used some analysis of a close analog in tech: the use of L-1 visas to bring in workers temporarily with no option for permanent residence or accompanying family, who labor at their home-local wages, typically far below US standards, although still required to honor US minimum wage and overtime (if non exempt).
posted by MattD at 7:35 AM on November 9, 2014


"Imagine that thanks to e-residency we have 100,000 new companies. That means we have more companies run by e-residents than by people physically in Estonia," says Kotka. It makes sense that e-citizens should have a say if the government wants to change tax laws, for example.

This isn't the end to the nation-state as we know it; it's the end of the nation-state. What e-stonian citizen would ever vote or lobby for anything but lower taxes and fewer services for corporeal Estonians?
posted by The White Hat at 7:37 AM on November 9, 2014 [3 favorites]




This isn't the end to the nation-state as we know it; it's the end of the nation-state. What e-stonian citizen would ever vote or lobby for anything but lower taxes and fewer services for corporeal Estonians?


Also: labour-market reforms to more efficiently utilise corporeal Estonians as a natural resource. It's almost like being a Corporate-American.
posted by acb at 7:50 AM on November 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


> This isn't the end to the nation-state as we know it; it's the end of the nation-state. What e-stonian citizen would ever vote or lobby for anything but lower taxes and fewer services for corporeal Estonians?

It's not e-citizenship, it's e-residency. New Scientist, in its fashion, misrepresents this. (They also seem to attach the same stock photo of the skyline of Tailinn to any Estonian news items.) Contrary to what "e-residency" implies, it doesn't even provide any kind of visa status.

Copied and pasted from Estonia's e-residency site: "This will not entail full legal residency or citizenship or right of entry to Estonia." E-residents don't get the right to do anything but have their identity registered by the state for an extremely limited range of purposes. Aside from commerce and authentication, it doesn't look like your relationship with Estonia is affected in any way.

Since you have to complete registration for e-residency while within the country's boundaries, the minimum requirements are going to be at least those of a tourist visa (unless you're a citizen of the EU).

If the country is at all savvy, they're going to use this to harden, not blur, the distinctions between citizens, residents, and virtual guests. By producing a new personal status which provides a limited set of advantages over nonregistered people, e-residents would be able to do things like, yeah, pay civil fines from outside the country -- but maybe also a range of prosaic things ranging from rights to the administer an account with a .ee top-level domain, open banking accounts, participate in domestic stock exchange, and so on.

In keeping with this, notice the e-residency website is at a .com tld; the campaign is being run by a private company with links to the government, rather than the government itself. I doubt you'll have access to any government functions that do not involve processing a payment.

It's a way of opening their economy while maintaining centralized control over who can participate. E-residency amounts to a status somewhere between resident alien and nonresident, with rights much closer to the nonresident side.
posted by ardgedee at 8:02 AM on November 9, 2014 [11 favorites]


I find it incredibly weird that I am (re) reading Cryptonomicon right now.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:13 AM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


So if I understand ardegee's explanation correctly, its the difference between being a paying subscriber of a blog vs registered (but free) member vs random browser of said site. Each has access to different levels of content and services.
posted by infini at 8:20 AM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Estonia is awesome. I wish my grandmother were still alive to see this.
posted by Nevin at 8:21 AM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Would this perhaps be useful as a "flag of convenience", the way that pretty much all the world's ocean-going ships seem to be registered in either Greece or Liberia?
posted by clawsoon at 8:44 AM on November 9, 2014


Next: we have always been at war with the citizens of Verizon!

It's not that great a leap. The very name "Verizon" connotes some all-controlled Orwellian state. "We will control the VERtical. We will control the horIZONtal."
posted by thejoshu at 8:49 AM on November 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


I'm sensitive to the argument that globalization has been let out of the bag and that attempts like this to register transnational business interests are as necessary a step in exploiting those interests for new tax revenue as they are in opening up the economy (and by extension the political sphere*) to exploitation by those same interests. It's a sticky situation for sure, but as the Estonian government's Chief Info Officer acknowledged in the New Scientist article "that if all goes as planned, the new cohort of e-Estonians will have to have a say in any future changes to the country's corporate tax structures, for instance, and perhaps more." And I'm genuinely concerned with what that all implies.
posted by The White Hat at 8:55 AM on November 9, 2014


So basically this is the chance to pay a foreign power to have additional capabilities to surveill me?

I have long observed that because store loyalty programs trick people into paying more, that privacy has a negative value, but this is the first time I've seen anyone come right out and make that association so explicit.
posted by straw at 9:06 AM on November 9, 2014


This kind of thing might have something to do with this.

If I read that correctly, this "entrepreneur" liked all the support he got from the government to start his business, but resented paying taxes once he was turning a profit. A perfect modern businessman!
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:21 AM on November 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


Sorry Estonia, I can already buy EU residency through the Dutch American Friendship Treaty. Although if you're offering me a path to citizenship that doesn't require me to operate a taco truck or coffee cafe, maybe we can talk.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:26 AM on November 9, 2014


vapidave: "I like it.

I signed Putin up too to save him a little time.
"

Silly you. Putin's not gonna show up there in person. His tanks will relay his message just fine.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 9:49 AM on November 9, 2014


This has nothing to do with citizenship per se. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Estonia opted to do business with Finland and Scandinavia, to which they're culturally close, rather than Slavic countries. To facilitate that, because they have a tiny population (so need to save labour), and because they're just cool that way, they (re)built their infrastructure to use networks and Internet as much as possible. Just about everything in Estonia can be done via SMS or Internet - from voting to consulting medical records to paying for the bus.

That is possible because Estonia runs what is basically the only government-backed OAuth system; all Estonians are issued with an ID card that contains a private key for the entire infrastructure, accepted as instant proof of identity by services and businesses alike, that serves as access to just about everything that needs authentication.

From what I understand, reporting is none too clear, the e-citizenship gives the right to use the infrastructure, and have Estonia issue you and your business government-backed electronic IDs, in effect guaranteeing as legally enforceable anything signed with the key. That's about it, but if it picks up that could make Estonia really important for both international business and Internet.
posted by Spanner Nic at 9:49 AM on November 9, 2014 [15 favorites]


Nobody posted the link to Bitnation yet? Not eligible for US citizens, and possibly a scam, but interesting.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 9:51 AM on November 9, 2014


Spanner Nic has it: Estonia has an amazing online authentication and identity system. This announcement about e-residency is basically them extending that capability to people outside Estonia. I've been following this story for awhile, some more context:

Estonia takes the plunge: A national identity scheme goes global
Estonia: The Little Country That Cloud

Every time we talk about password breaches on Metafilter I launch into my little rant about how awful passwords are and we need better forms of authentication. Estonia has one, and has been operating it for years, and it's pretty interesting. I think extending it globally is unlikely to work unless they can somehow negotiate deals with international companies and/or other countries, but I like that they're trying.

(For counterpoint, South Korea is discovering what happens when a national ID system gets compromised. South Korean ID system faces overhauls following 10 years of data thefts)
posted by Nelson at 10:45 AM on November 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Will this get me access to delicious Saku beer?
posted by Drinky Die at 11:19 AM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Estonia when you're trying to be so good.
Estonia just like they said they would.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:20 PM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


That would be an e-rosion, wouldn't it?
posted by carping demon at 12:15 AM on November 10, 2014


We're number 1!

Violation of the Terms of Service will result in e-Stoning.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 4:17 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Will this get me access to delicious Saku beer?

Yuck. This is where it's at.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 4:19 AM on November 10, 2014


the end of the nation-state as we know it

And I feel fine.
posted by snottydick at 1:59 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


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