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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Estonia National ID Card

Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, January 19, 2006
10:45 am

An informative white paper (.pdf file) from Cybertrust describes the implementation of a national ID card for the Republic of Estonia: “Issued by the Estonian Government’s citizen and migration board (CMB), national ID cards represent the primary source of personal identification for people living within Estonia and are mandatory for all citizens and resident aliens above the age of fifteen.”



5 Responses to “Estonia National ID Card”

    Thanks Mark – that’s a very interesting paper.

    It’s noticeable how they have avoided some of the contentious aspects of ID Cards and focused on:

    – simplicity (no digital biometrics)
    – utility to the citizen (DSig services)
    – simplicity (no role/entitlements data)
    – user control (DSig disabed if you don’t want it
    – simplicity (no central aggregation of loads of user data).

    Hmmm. Do I see a theme emerging here?

    Comment by Robin Wilton on January 19, 2006 at 12:37 pm

    Estonia has only 1.4 million citizens, so it is an interesting test case we can learn from. It appears that their “simplicity approach” has a lot of advantages.

    I think public acceptance of such a card will be tied to the value people get from it. My biggest problem with national ID cards is the potential for abuse. Used appropriately, they solve some problems. But I’m not yet convinced that the benefits of the cards out weigh the risk of terrible abuse.

    The white paper also highlights the fact that the technologies used are only a small part of the issue. There are many processes and systems that must be put in place to produce, deploy, monitor and manage the system. That is probably why several groups in the UK estimate that the deploying a national ID card will cost much more than initially estimated.

    Comment by Mark Dixon on January 19, 2006 at 2:27 pm

    National ID cards are the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of. They are totally incompatible with a free society… No government has any authority to mandate that we carry their ID card, nor do they have any authority to force us to identify ourselves.
    I for one refuse to live in the type of totalitarian police-state that mandates something like this, and I’m disgusted and sickened that you guys are talking about this as though it is – in any way – a good or desirable thing.
    If this is implemented in the United States, forget Web 2.0 and say hello to Revolution 2.0.

    Comment by Phillip Rhodes on January 20, 2006 at 7:08 pm

    Phillip – see my previous blog about what I think the abuses of national ID may portend:


    Comment by Mark Dixon on January 21, 2006 at 10:05 am

    Ouch. I didn’t mean to sicken and disgust Phillip!
    I am as conscious as anyone of the possible drawbacks of ID cards… in fact, I am probably more ‘anti’ them than Sun would be comfortable with, were it not so accommodating of intellectual freedom.

    I have lived in states which have identity cards and states which don’t, and I have to say, it seems to be perfectly possible to run a police state without making people carry ID cards. It’s also at least theoretically possible to run a benevolent, liberal democracy with ID cards (it probably takes a lot more care and thought, though!).

    Comment by Robin Wilton on January 26, 2006 at 2:43 am

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