Of course the Esonian story sounds like a fairy tale. However in 2007 Estonia was subjected to a major cyberwar during a dispute with neighbouring Russia. This led the country to put together a ‘Tallinn Manual’ on how to defend against cyberwarfare.
The e-Cabinet is a success story. Coming from the Netherlands where we pride ourselves to be in the front of the digital movement, Dutch e-government can still learn a lot from Estonia. Of course we have an ID, the so-called DIGID, but we cannot sign documents using the digital ID. Of course we can take notice electronically of new legal proposals, however Dutch organisations and citizens cannot participate in the preparations or debates. The aim of this project was the development of an electronic e-participation system that enables citizens to submit ideas, discuss them and vote for them. It all started in June 2001 when the Estonian government launched a public participation portal named “Today I decide” (known under the Estonian acronym “TOM”). The TID+ project is inspired by the experiences with the TOM tool. The Dutch government meetings are still not completely digital; there is still a lot of paper involved. But there are more differences. In Estonia they have 13 ministers for 1,4 inhabitants. In the Netherlands we have also 13 ministers, supported by 7 State secretaries, for 16 million citizens. In the Netherlands we abolished online voting as privacy was not guaranteed. In Estonia online voting facilities were implemented in Estonia in 2005, and accounted for a quarter of votes cast in the 2011 elections. Of course here the ID card is at the heart of the online voting. And no less than 95 per cent of the Estonian population files taxes online.
The e-Cabinet experience has a spin-off in the e-Governance Academy. The Estonians are now training officials in various countries in e-government such as Belarus, Haiti, Moldavia, Mongolia, Palestine and Tajikistan. The e-gov Academy also supplies master programs to universities. And the experience is also applied close to home in local and cross-border programs.