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Unique IDs for Estonian denizens

Unique IDs for Estonian denizens

Tallin, Estonia: The United States has the social security number, in India there is nothing, but in Estonia, beginning 2002, individuals are uniquely identified by an email ID.

“Every person who stays in Estonia has a mail id provided by the government for all formal communications. It is possible to do so as we are a country with a small population," Siim Kiisler, deputy minister, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications of Estonia said.

The email ID has two possible forms; firstname.lastname@eesti.ee or the personalIDnumber@eesti.ee, where ee stands for Estonia. Once a person receives an ID card, it is compulsory to have one, then the same person automatically receives e-mail address issued by the Citizenship and Migration Board of Estonia.

Estonia has an area of 45,000 square kilometres, which is a little bigger than Haryana, and a population of only around 1.34 million. According to Statistics Estonia database, the country’s population growth is negative -- in 2006, there were 11.07 births per 1000 people, while the death rate is 12.89 per 1,000 people.

“The system has been a great help to the government as it helps it to send and receive information relating to elections, election voucher, messages about electricity, gas, water, heating problems. This saves the government the costs for printing, envelopes, postmarks and helps in delivering information in real time," said Raul Allikivi, head of economic policy division at Economic Development Department at the Estonian government.

The personal ID code consists of different parts. For example, in a personal ID number-35901224134, the first digit indicates gender (3 is for men, and 4 is for women). The following next 6 digits indicate birth date, followed by the two digits which indicate the area followed by the last two digits which are randomly selected.

Even foreigners who stay in Estonia with a temporary living permit, get a number (area code for foreigners is 00). Everybody is given a personal ID code at birth and it is also used for tracking that particular person in databases. “It means that even if there are some people who share the same first and last names, everybody has a unique e-mail address,"Allikivi said.

Mail account remains the same for a lifetime. Once activated the e-mail account functions as a forwarding service, forwarding mails received into person’s primary e-mail accounts.

Explaining the usage of the email id, Allikivi explained, “If a certain authority knows that there are going to be some kind of works at a certain district that may cause electricity cuts, then it is possible to notify people living in that area by using their official e-mail addresses."

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