On June 15, the Estonian government approved an agreement which would enable Estonia to establish the world’s first data embassy.
Estonia will establish its first data embassy in Luxembourg, storing copies of the country's important databases and registers. Data which is going to be backed up in Luxembourg covers ten priority databases till now, including the information system of the Governmental Payments Office (the Estonian treasury), the pensions insurance register, the business register, the population register, the land cadastre and and the identity documents database.
The idea behind the data embassy is to guarantee the digital continuity of Estonia in the event of any physical disruptions. The state will back up critical data and services outside its territory. OpenGov had recently conducted an interview with Mr. Mehis Sihvart, Director of the Centre of Registers and Information Systems in Estonia, in which he highlighted the complexities of the technical and legal framework required for setting up the data embassies. A report from last year talked about the sovereignty, data protection, data custodianship, diplomatic protection, consular protection, and sovereign immunity. Immunity has to be guaranteed for the data as well as servers in the data center.
The bilateral agreement between Estonia and Luxembourg lays down the obligations and rights of the two countries which are necessary for the protection of the Republic of Estonia's data and information systems.
The physical location of the servers will remain secret, and only people cleared by the Estonian state will have access to them.
A memorandum of understanding was signed last year between the two countries concerning the data center, confirming the necessary political readiness on both sides. The bilateral agreement is planned to be signed in Luxembourg by the two countries' respective prime ministers this month.