Enter e-Estonia: e-identity

In the second-part of e-Estonia’s video presentations, we’re taking an in-depth look at e-identity (eID). This is a cornerstone of Estonia’s digital society, and without it, none of the other online services (e-health, e-taxes, i-voting) could be accessed or utilised safely and securely.

In this video: e-identity

As the name suggests, eID is an electronic ID. Used in conjunction with a unique 11-digit personal code, it allows individuals to log into the available e-services in both the private and public sectors. First introduced in 2002, eID now comes in a number of different forms:

  • as a physical card, serving as mandatory identification and travel document for Estonians inside the Schengen area. Both citizens and residents (either temporary or permanent) of Estonia are issued this;
  • as mobile-ID, a SIM-card based solution, letting you complete transactions with your phone;
  • as Smart-ID, an app that can log into the various portals;
  • and as e-residency, a card available to anyone wanting to join Estonia’s digital society.

Each of the above forms uses PIN numbers as an additional security precaution. PIN numbers are used to verify access to e-services and they ensure that even if you misplace your card or phone, someone cannot view your personal data or falsely complete transactions.

With the PIN numbers, users can also give a digital signature. This has the same legal power in Estonia and throughout the EU as a traditional signature on paper. However, not only is it faster and cheaper, but it’s more secure. And it allows documents to be signed from anywhere in the world.

Because eID is connected to one’s personal data it can function as a driver’s licence, health insurance card, and more. Many private companies also sync their loyalty programmes to the card, meaning 1 card can do the work of 20!

As the foundation for Estonia’s digital society, eID helps carriers perform a number of different functions both online and in person. It makes it possible to offer the various personalised services of e-Estonia.

In the next video we’ll explore interoperability services. Stay tuned!

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