Ilenna Copely, senior commercial lawyer, continues her Cinderblock fable about the impact of mythical proportions that blockchain technology will have on society.
What, you may ask, ever became of those wretched step-sisters of Cinderella? With a purity of heart and despite her power to confine them to a dungeon to listen to “It’s a Small World After All” for all of eternity, Cinderella mercifully allowed them their freedom, in the hope they would redeem themselves and one day serve the community.
One does not wish to be unkind to their colleagues through association, but it was fact enough each had become a lower-middle-management bureaucrat. One sat (constantly, it should be observed), in the Department of State Development and the other (with beady-eyed precision as her finest attribute), in the Department of Treasury.
Now, our plot could take a predictably dastardly turn at this point, stagnating us all in a quagmire of the mediocrity of the status quo, with a fear-driven attitude of, “but this is just the way we’ve always done it”. The step-sisters themselves rejoiced in the comforting predictability of doing nothing new and beneficial.
However, the Minister, Director-General and other senior representatives of each department, were greatly admired leaders for their focus on beneficial innovation, with a deep appreciation of the importance of government leading by example in the development and implementation of Blockchain solutions.
Through a rather strange turn of events, the day prior to senior representatives of a Ministerial trade delegation travelling to Estonia, each of the dozen representatives fell violently ill. Of course, one cannot dismiss the sneaking suspicion the apple cider served at the farewell barbeque, hurriedly arranged and hosted by the step-sisters rather unexpectedly, may have concealed a potion or seven. Given the batting order collapse, it fell to the step-sisters to represent the Kingdom at the trade event in Estonia. Unfortunately, two greater sceptics of Blockchain could not have been found, even if a search was undertaken of the same epic proportions as the Prince’s own #GlassSlipperGirl.
And one does also wonder at the timing of the Minor European Royalty Bachelor Sailing Regatta in the Port of Tallinn, scheduled for the same week.
It fell to Cinderella to brief the step-sisters prior to their departure, who advised them as follows.
Estonia, it may be said, is the swan of Blockchain, amongst a flock of ducklings.
Since 2001, Estonia has demonstrated unprecedented leadership to embrace the digital age, by issuing essentially each of its 1.3 million citizens with a secure digital identification.
Throughout all the lands, Estonia should be celebrated loudly for its dedication to, and focus upon, creating a “hassle-free” system of engagement with government services. The unique digital ID of each person has enabled Estonia’s i-Voting system to allow people to vote at their convenience, since it was first used in 2005.
Given Estonia’s experience during the 2007 cyber-attacks, it has implemented Blockchain technology to ensure the integrity of data and systems and combat insider risk. Since 2008, Estonia has been testing Blockchain technology. Since that year, each of Estonia’s citizens has owned her or his health data, which is in distinct contrast to most societies in which people, at least within the public health systems, do not have control, nor even access to their own personal health records.
The system uses KSI Blockchain technology (developed in Estonia by Guardtime), to ensure the integrity of the data and reduce the risk of internal threats to the data. Today in Estonia, all healthcare billing is done electronically, 95% of health data is digitised and 97% of prescriptions are digital. The information includes blood-type, allergies, recent treatments, ongoing medication and pregnancy, which is particularly useful in time-critical treatments.
The efficiency of the system enables doctors to access a patient’s previous medical history, regardless of the location at which they are being treated. Additionally, in 2017, Estonia started working towards cross-border data exchange facilities with Finland, which will allow doctors in one country to access medical records of a patient in another country.
The KSI Blockchain technology has subsequently been used by NATO, the US Department of Defence and the European Union to ensure cyber-security. Estonia is the base of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (NATO CCD COE) and the European IT agency. The technology is now available in 180 countries.
Since 2012, Blockchain, with its decentralised systems, has also been used in Estonia’s judicial and legislative security systems. Estonia has the second fastest court proceedings in Europe, given the fully automated court processes, electronic communication tools and, since 2015, paperless proceedings. Estonia’s e-Law system enables the public to read every draft law submitted since February 2003.
Impressively, sessions of the Tallinn City Council can be followed online and the city’s legislation and other documents are available online. The significant transparency afforded by the system reduces corruption and encourages citizens to take an active interest in the business of the Council and creation of laws.
Perhaps most progressively, Estonia’s e-Residency has been described as the country’s “gift to the world”. With an outward-focused promotion of Estonia as a progressive, supportive and attractive environment in which to conduct business, e-Residency enables a person from anywhere in the world to be granted a government-issued digital ID and full access to Estonia’s public e-Services. Holding a verified, government-issued identity reduces risk (particularly to overcome the challenges often associated with not knowing the party with whom one is dealing in business), and promotes commercial trade. The “Know Your Customer”, that is particularly important to making decisions regarding reliability for payment, is often referred to as KYC. The primary focus of the e-Residency is to promote and enable entrepreneurial potential, by democratising access to e-commerce, regardless of where the person lives in the world.
In concluding her briefing, Cinderella’s high regard for Estonia was sealed with whipped cream and a cherry on the top. As she considered with growing enthusiasm the immense appeal of taking out e-Residency from the comfort of her conservatory while wearing Ugg slippers (her preferred slipper of choice nowadays), she was greatly heartened at the further opportunities for her children, given Estonia’s commitment that by 2020 all study materials will be digitised and available through an online e-schoolbag.
I am delighted to report that despite the narrow avoidance of an international diplomatic incident involving a sailing boat, the trade delegation by the step-sisters was heralded as an overwhelming success. Most surprising of all, other than the quantities of oysters and champagne each step-sister consumed, was their wholehearted endorsement of all things Blockchain that are currently being used, and which one may imagine could be used, to promote and enable swift efficiency in government systems.