The World’s First Data Embassy

Estonia projects to build a “Data Embassy” in Betzdorf, Luxembourg

July 06th, 2017
David Schwengler, CD News
2017_07_06 Data Embassy.jpg

Estonia has reached an agreement with Luxembourg to host the very first “digital embassy” to secure its most confidential data.


The term “digital embassy” is a little bit misleading because it will actually be a backup data center used by the Estonian State but located in Luxembourg. Therefore, Luxembourg will have the responsibility to guarantee the safety of the new data center. Estonia considers it needs a backup data center outside its border in case of a massive cyber-attack or more simply if damages occur on its own data center.

Indeed, the very digitalized Estonia rely vastly on ITs. The country is the “closest to a digital society” according to the World Bank. In 2014, Estonia created the concept of “e-residency” and started to issue “smart ID cards”. E-residency gives access to online public services and the possibility to digitally sign any official document. Estonia even seeks to offer this technology all around the world, not just to Estonian people.

Estonia prefers to trust another European country rather than the cloud technology currently offered by private companies such as Google or Microsoft. Nevertheless, Estonia did work with Microsoft in 2014 to see whether a public/private computing partnership could work but it did not permit for the Estonian State to maintain full control and jurisdiction on the data center.

With a “digital embassy”, Estonia will have the same rights on its data center as it was an embassy according to the Vienna Convention. That is why the term “embassy” is used. It also means that Luxembourg will have the obligation to impede any violation towards the building.

The concept is very innovative and could be an example of cyber-security cooperation for the rest of the world. It announces a new form of exchange between countries. It is a new kind of inter-State cooperation in the ICT sector. The data embassy could be operating at the end 2017.


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