Nobody wants to imagine the worst-case scenario, but victory loves preparation. So, try to picture a situation where a cyber-attack, natural disaster or even war would compromise the functioning of a state – all these are considerable threats also to countries that have a less advanced digital infrastructure than Estonia. How to make sure that all crucial citizen and governance-related data is safe in situations like these? This is where the data embassy comes in.
Storing data outside our borders
Estonia is the first country in the world to establish a data embassy. It may sound futuristic, but it actually just means a secure data centre. In essence it’s an embassy without an ambassador and it’s located at a secure facility outside Estonia. While it has the highest security level for data centres, it’s not an embassy in the traditional diplomatic sense – it is something completely new under international law.
As mentioned, it’s really just a data centre – on the visual side just imagine racks of servers. From the database side, ten strategically important datasets will be backed up into the data embassy. They currently are (in no particular order): e-file (court system), treasury information system, e-land registry, taxable person’s registry, business registry, population registry, State Gazette, identity documents registry, land cadastral registry, national pension insurance registry.