The Estonian government has decided to boost the paperless society and make sure all public services involve as little repetitive bureaucracy as possible. Or, as Urve Palo the country’s Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology says, it will predominantly function invisibly. “It means everything could be conducted either in a single online contact with an official or completely automatically. This principle will be applied to both the e-services, which are already in use, as well as those that will be established in the future” Palo explains. “For example, services such as buying and selling a car, changing a driver’s license and declaring income already function almost automatically. However, starting a business, having a child or changing your name after getting married still requires a person to turn to various authorities separately.”
According to Palo, the aim is to combine all the services into one invisibly functioning unit, thus making it simpler for people and companies to deal with public authorities – because matters will be solved automatically or with maximum one service contact. Talking about the future of Estonian public e-services in general, Palo says that much more attention will be paid to user-friendliness and the augmentation of automatic services. “In fact, the government has confirmed the principles and new regulations to achieve the ‘invisible function’ and made it mandatory for public institutions to comply with it.”
When the new regulation enters into force on 1 July 2019, authorities are required to use the existing data about the person or the entrepreneur. In the case there is no data, they will have to get the data in a single interaction. At the same time, everyone will have an overview of how his or her data is processed in the information systems and be aware as to who is using it. “This requirement must be observed not only in the development of the existing but also the new information systems,” Palo asserts.
Siim Sikkut, the government’s ICT policy adviser, adds that the work to develop the “invisible e-services” has already begun and it should start benefiting people at some point in 2018. “We want to take Estonian e-services to a completely new level,” he says. Estonia has proved that the key to doing digital things successfully you need and must have a legal framework that allows you to do it in the first place.