Wednesday

20th Sep 2017

Focus

Build trust before you introduce e-voting, says Estonian president

  • "Culture prevails also when you create your digital state," said Estonian president Kaljulaid (r) (Photo: Saeima)

Estonian president Kersti Kaljulaid defended her country's practice of online voting, saying in some ways it is even more secure than the traditional way of voting via paper ballots, but warned other countries not to introduce e-voting too quickly.

“I believe we have a well-protected identification system,” she told journalists in Tallinn on Thursday (29 June).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Kaljulaid spoke with the media two days before the Baltic nation assumes its six-month presidency over the Council of the EU, during which it wants to focus on the benefits of digital technology.

Estonia is keen to profile itself as a digital pioneer. During the most recent parliamentary elections in 2015, 30 percent of the votes were cast online.

Other interactions Estonian citizens have with the state are also becoming increasingly digital.

Elsewhere in Europe, though, concerns over online voting and hacking have been central in recent elections.

But Kaljulaid was still confident in the system.

“In addition to having a really secure personal identification system, which is a physical card, and two codes – I think, frankly, it's slightly stronger than somebody opening my passport with my photo that is six years old,” she said.

“We have made the system even stronger by the fact that e-voting lasts several days,” said the Estonian president.

That means that even if someone were to force someone to support a certain candidate, they could simply vote again later – as only the last one counts.

“It is changeable until the e-voting is closed. Trying to buy votes or influence the result simply doesn't fly,” she said.

Kaljulaid also said that the vote is not traceable to the voter, and that e-voting was “maybe even slightly more secure” because, on a paper ballot, there may be fingerprints that could identify the voter.

However, the Estonian president, whose role is ceremonial, said she would not advise other countries to simply copy the Estonian model.

“Every state has a different culture. This culture prevails also when you create your digital state. You need to find your own solutions which will convince your own people to use digital [methods],” said Kaljulaid.

Moreover, she advised against rushing into e-voting.

“I would never advise using e-voting as the first digital service to start digital change in your society,” she said.

“You need to start with simpler services: applications for registering a child at school or at music school, then gradually going to applying for social services over the internet.”

“When people gain confidence that the state is in no way betraying them … then you can move to a higher-risk services.”

Kaljulaid said “a lot of trust in cyber security” is needed, as well as “cyber hygiene”.

According to the president, her citizens have a high level of cyber hygiene, and know that they regularly need to update their systems to close security weaknesses.

“The cyber sphere is never totally risk-free, nothing in life is. … [But that is] not a reason to withdraw from the cyber system”.

EUobserved

MPs and media create Brexit hacking scare

A report by British MPs said it cannot rule out that a cyber attack caused a voter registration website to crash, but also admitted it had "no direct evidence" of Russian or Chinese influence.

Trust is 'gold' in digital age

Trust is perhaps the most important resource and the key to building successes, but new Nordic research indicates that challenges may lie ahead in the digital age.

Estonia tests water for own virtual currency

Following the success of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, some in the Baltic nation propose introducing their own version for their e-residents. But what about the euro?

EU to beef up cybersecurity agency

The Commission's president proposed to set up a European Cybersecurity Agency. The EU already has an agency for Network and Information Security.

Feature

Nine lines that changed history - at least on the internet

Google has removed 800,000 search results across the EU following complaints from citizens, without the public knowing what has been removed, why it was removed or who complained. We revisit the case that rewrote history online.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  2. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  3. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  6. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  7. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  8. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel
  9. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Urges Bigger Global Role for Emerging Economies
  10. EU2017EEAre We Socially Insured in the Future of Work?
  11. European Jewish CongressFrench Authorities to Root Out "Societal Antisemitism" After Jewish Family Assaulted
  12. European Federation of Local Energy CompaniesClean Energy for All? On 10.10 Top-Level Speakers Present the Clean Energy Package