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Estonia seeks UK datacentre to protect citizens' personal data from hackers - report

The Baltic state is reportedly in early stage talks with the UK and Luxembourg governments about setting up a backup site in either country to protect citizens’ data from risk of hackers

Estonia is reportedly in talks with the UK and Luxembourg governments about the possibility of occupying datacentre space in either location to backup the vast quantities of data that allow its digitally led economy to flourish.

According to a report in the Financial Times, Estonian officials are keen to establish a backup datacentre outside of the Baltic state to house sensitive personal data belonging to citizens because of growing concerns about the cyber security threat posed to the country by Russia.

The Estonian economy is largely paperless, so the facility will be used to hold digital copies of people’s birth certificates, banking details and the electoral roll, the report states.

Taavi Kotka, the Estonian government’s cyber chief, said the political threat posed by neighbouring countries means it must take steps to ensure the country’s economy can continue ticking over in the event of a cyber attack.

“We have a very aggressive neighbour and we need to be sure that whatever happens to our territory in the future, Estonia can survive,” said Kotka.

“In Estonia we already vote over the internet, we pay taxes over the internet – there’s almost nothing now we don’t do digitally.”

For this reason, the country is understood to already rely on servers located within the walls of its overseas embassies to store sensitive government information.

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A UK government spokesperson confirmed to the Financial Times that early-stage talks about the possibility of a “joint data management project” with Estonia had taken place.

However, the outcome of the European Union (EU) Referendum – that saw the UK vote to leave the EU in June 2016 – has also prompted Estonia to consult with officials in Luxembourg about the possibility of housing its data there.

Luxembourg has been widely tipped by the analyst community, in the wake of the Brexit vote, to step up its attempts to get datacentre users to ditch their UK facilities in favour of facilities housed in its borders. Particularly those interested in guaranteeing continued access to the EU Single Market once the UK extricates itself from the EU.

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