Thursday

24th Jan 2019

Focus

Estonia picks Luxembourg for 'ultimate backup'

  • Estonia will build servers in Luxembourg as an 'ultimate backup' (Photo: European Union)

Estonia chose Luxembourg as the country to store a comprehensive backup of government data because it had the best infrastructure, Estonian prime minister Juri Ratas said on Friday (30 June).

There were “some countries on the table”, Ratas told EUobserver at a press conference in Tallinn, without naming names.

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

Estonia calls the out-of-border backup, which will include copies of its citizens' health data, population data, and business registries, a data embassy.

“It is the first data embassy in the world,” said Ratas, who spoke to journalists a day before the Baltic country takes over the six-month lasting EU presidency.

Earlier this month, he had travelled to Luxembourg to sign an agreement on the data embassy with prime minister Xavier Bettel.

The data embassy will comprise a set of servers that host copies of data the Estonian government has collected.

A lot of interactions Estonians have with the state take place digitally, said Siim Sikkut, chief information officer at the Estonian government.

“If we lose digital records, we are done as a country. We don't keep paper backups,” he told a group of journalists earlier on Friday.

Sikkut, who advises the Estonian government on ICT policies, said the plan for the data embassy was made with idea that “ultimately things in Estonia can fail”.

“Servers can burn down, we can have a natural disaster,” he said, also mentioning a cyber attack as a possibility.

“The whole point is to be ready for anything that can happen.”

The Estonian government decided that it should keep an “ultimate backup” outside of the country's borders.

Because the government wanted to keep “full control”, it was not possible to simply upload all data to a commercial host.

“Private clouds, like the Google's, Amazon's, you name them, is not an option for us. There we won't have control,” said Sikkut.

“But hey, physical embassies are our territory abroad.”

The data embassy would also allow Estonia's government to continue to function when it is not able to do so from its home territory.

Sikkut brought to mind that during the Soviet occupation, there was an Estonian government in exile.

The Luxembourg backup would allow Estonia to work as a “virtual exile government”.

Sikkut added that the data embassy should be up and running by the end of the year.

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?

Some EU states face delays in 5G preparation

National governments secured a one-year extension for publishing plans to make radio frequencies available for mobile communications - but some were nevertheless unable to meet the deadline.

News in Brief

  1. Greek parliament to vote on Macedonia name deal
  2. Media cut ties to reporter who plagiarised EU stories
  3. Cyprus to host southern EU summit next week
  4. 'Yellow Vest' protesters to run list in EU elections
  5. Barnier: No-deal preparations 'more important than ever'
  6. Commission offers no-deal Brexit help to EU fisheries
  7. OECD: France and Belgium top social spending
  8. Study: Tax evasion cost five time as much as EU budget

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. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. EU: Italy's choice to end or continue Operation Sophia
  2. European Space Force should only be for defence, says MEP
  3. The demise of the INF treaty: can the EU save arms control?
  4. Stymied on 'golden passports', EU sets up expert group
  5. Tajani wants second term as EU parliament president
  6. EU commissioner floats idea for European space force
  7. France and Germany hope to revive EU with Aachen treaty
  8. May pushes defeated Brexit deal, offers no Plan B

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us