Or is there more to it?
So how did we get here?
This article will provide an in-depth look at how e-Estonia was formed, the X-road and will debunk the myth that it uses blockchain technology.
In order to tackle transparency, accountability issues in government, Estonia introduced the No Citizen Left Behind program, as a way to provide access to e-government services to as many people as possible.
This program expanded throughout the country to provide more than 700 Public Internet Access Points, and included public Wi-fi. The success of the No Citizen Left Behind program led to the inevitable creation of e-Estonia, which is now considered one of the most advanced e-societies in the world, on par with Switzerland.
a coordinated governmental effort to transform the country from a state into a digital society
He goes on to say that
e-Estonia is the most ambitious project in technological statecraft today, for it includes all members of the government, and alters citizen’s daily lives. The normal services that government is involved with – legislation, voting, education, justice, health care, banking, taxes, policing and so on – have been digitally inked across one platform, wiring up the nation.
The X-Road allows data to be linked through individual servers with end-to-end encrypted pathways, letting information live locally. In this system, Estonia’s data isn’t centrally stored, and each agency stores their data separately. Data isn’t duplicated yet can still be accessed from authorities and government agencies.
X-Road maintains the integrity of the data while simultaneously maintaining confidentiality while still allowing other agencies to access the data.
Blockchain and e-Estonia
1. The electronic ID-card system used by the Estonian e-Health Record uses blockchain technology to ensure data integrity and mitigate internal threats to the data. In this way every occurrence of data use and misuse is detectable and major damages to a person’s health can be prevented (such as the wrong medicine or the wrong dose). Blockchain provides real-time alerts to attacks, enabling the government to respond to incidents immediately before large-scale damages occur.
2. The Estonian KSI Blockchain technology protects Estonian e-services such as the e-Health Record, e-Prescription database, e-Law, and e-Court systems, e-Police data, e-Banking, e-Business Register, and e-Land Registry The same KSI Blockchain technology is used by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, EU IT Agency, US Defence Department to name a few.
Misconceptions of e-Estonia
The first major core misconception of e-Estonia lies in the underlying technology, and whether it is apt to call it blockchain at all. Allegations have surfaced online that e-Estonia does not implement blockchain at all, instead, it is an urban myth which gained traction and made its way throughout the internet.
According to this report, X-Road is not on blockchain but both utilize similar cryptographic hashing functions for linking data items to each other.
According to Kivimäki
Cryptographic hash functions existed well before blockchain so even if both blockchain and the X-Road use them does not mean that X-Road is based on blockchain
Limitations of e-Estonia
One of the major one that has been identified in e-Estonia is adoptability. Although it is touted as a decentralized haven for digital identity, with access to several e-services, there are still barriers to entry.
Since the creation of e-Estonia, paper-based transactional process is becoming scarcer. The current overall dependency on computer networks in Estonia is at a high level that strong cyber security mechanisms, whether it be through blockchain or through traditional software solutions are critical.
The Future of Blockchain and e-Estonia
Estonia, through its creation and promulgation of the digital e-society is on track to becoming one of the most technologically dependant nations currently in the UN. If blockchain is adopted in the future, it could provide an optimal good governance model which would work in conjunction with X-Road allowing its residents to thrive and setting an example for other UN Nation States.
By promoting transparency and ready access to government services, Estonian citizens can trust government institutions and are granted more control of what happens to their data using their ID Card.
Blockchain’s key characteristics and attributes are important to furthering greater control and to promote more effective good governance structures. By leveraging blockchain technology, the Estonian government can ensure greater security measures, increased transparency, individual control, a unique digital signature and consensus mechanisms.
Citizens can trust the immutability of the blockchain and trust that their information remains safe from potential external hacks or security breaches.
Although e-Estonia suffers from problems of adoption and lack of financial resources, the investment and universal adoption of technology has proved positive and trust has remained. In a rapidly technologically developing world, is critical to ensuring trust between various
stakeholders of a nation.