Saturday

17th Nov 2018

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).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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?

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Are EU data watchdogs staffed for GDPR?

The success of the new general data protection regulation (GDPR) will depend on whether data protection authorities enforce the new rules - which, in turn, will be at least partly determined by how many people they employ.

Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline

The EU starts enforcing its general data protection regulation on 25 May - but Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania and Slovenia won't be ready. The delay will cause legal uncertainty.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us