Friday

15th Nov 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 20 year's of archives. 30-day 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?

News in Brief

  1. Catalan politicians extradition hearing postponed
  2. Germany: EU banking union deal possible in December
  3. EIB: no more funding of fossil-fuel projects
  4. UK defence chief: Russia could trigger World War III
  5. Hungary's Varhelyi will face more questions
  6. Police put former Berlusconi MEP Comi under house arrest
  7. MEPs criticise Poland for criminalising sex education
  8. UK will not name new commissioner before election

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 MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. Key moments for new commission This WEEK
  2. EU threatens legal action against UK over commissioner
  3. Corruption in the Balkans: the elephant in the room
  4. Green MEPs unconvinced by Romanian commissioner
  5. EU states fell short on sharing refugees, say auditors
  6. Hungary's commissioner-to-be grilled over loyalty to Orban
  7. Widow's plea as EU diplomats debate Magnitsky Act
  8. Leftist MEPs call on EU to address crisis in Chile

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us