News and Commentary

European Nation Microchips National ID Cards For Banking, Voting, Insurance

The small European nation of Estonia has started embedding microchips into their citizens’ national ID cards for the purpose of giving their citizens a “digital identity.”

“Since the turn of the 21st century, Estonia has offered each citizen a government-issued ‘digital identity’ — including a chip-embedded national ID card that can be used for social security, health insurance, voter registration, banking and much more,” the Los Angeles Times reported. “It also now offers ‘e-residency’ for people around the world who want to be part of its digital revolution, allowing them to register a business in Estonia, which is part of the European Union.”

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid told the Times last week that Estonia is “the first digital society that has its own state,” meaning that “all Estonian digital developments operate as a single society.”

“We have a single backbone, based on which everybody builds their services,” Kaljulaid said. “And this applies for the public sector and the private sector equally. Because of course all of us globally use very many online services, digital services, but they come on platforms without any security, simply because you don’t have a digital identity to verify who is doing what to whom on the internet.”

“We do have it, and we’ve had it since the turn of the century, which means we now have one generation which has grown up knowing that the government is at their fingertips,” Kaljulaid continued. “And all the banking services like you have here are at our fingertips as well. But what they also have, as an additional asset, is the security of an internet passport, a digital identity, which makes provision and use of these services safe and secure.”

Kaljulaid claimed that the system has never been hacked but added that Estonia is under the same threat from Russia that other nations are in terms of being a target for cyber hackers.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated that the microchips were embedded in Estonia’s citizens.