Every country could learn from Estonia's innovative digital governance
Big Brother does “just want to help” – in Estonia, at least. In this small nation of 1.3 million people, citizens have overcome fears of an Orwellian dystopia with ubiquitous surveillance to become a highly digital society.
The government took nearly all its services online in 2003 with the e-Estonia State Portal. The country’s innovative digital governance was not the result of a carefully crafted master plan, it was a pragmatic and cost-efficient response to budget limitations.
It helped that citizens trusted their politicians after Estonia regained independence in 1991. And, in turn, politicians trusted the country’s engineers, who had no commitment to legacy hardware or software systems, to build something new.
This proved to be a winning formula that can now benefit all the European countries.
The once-only principle
With its digital governance, Estonia introduced the “once-only” principle, mandating that the state is not allowed to ask citizens for the same information twice.