Introducing the World's First E-Resident

Estonia is now issuing electronic IDs to people who wish to do business there
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2014 8:05 AM CST
Introducing the World's First E-Resident
Edward Lucas' e-resident card.   (Twitter)

Estonia is known as one of the world's most tech-savvy countries. Not only is it the birthplace of Skype, but its national ID system allows its citizens to file taxes and even elect politicians online. Now, the tiny Baltic republic of 1.3 million is issuing smart cards to so-called e-residents, thereby allowing people (regardless of their offline citizenship) to sign documents online, register companies in Estonia, and even order prescriptions from Estonian pharmacies, reports the Atlantic. "This is the beginning of the erosion of the classic nation-state hegemony," an MIT digital identity researcher tells New Scientist.

In fact, the first person issued such an ID isn't Estonian at all; Economist journalist Edward Lucas, a Brit who happened to be the first person issued an Estonian visa when it broke from the Soviet Union in 1990, says that while he'll still be a "proud and loyal British subject," he will now be identifying himself "with an Estonian-issued digital ID" where he is "not constrained by national boundaries." The card costs roughly $60, and e-residents must apply in Estonia, provide a photo and fingerprints, and pick up the card within two weeks at the office where they applied. (Check out what an Estonian hacker gang did in 2012.)

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