Former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves on Blockchain Adoption and Internet Regulation

June 24th, 2021 · 1 hr 22 mins

About this Episode

In this Relay Chain exclusive, Joe Petrowski (Technical Integrations Lead at Web3 Foundation) and Parity’s Úrsula O'Kuinghttons speak with former President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves. Uniquely placed as one of few presidents who knows how to code, Ilves was responsible for implementing the digitization of the Estonian government, one of the first countries to adopt blockchain tech, and many other processes in the country from voting to registering a business.

They discuss how Estonia, one of the smallest countries in the world, became one of the most entrepreneurial and tech-savvy, what led Estonia to go ‘digital', declare access to the internet as a basic human right, and mediate data integrity for their digital records via blockchain. Ilves talks about his concerns for the internet given its weaponization and populist exploitation, the problematic state of freedom of expression and accountability online, and governance of online communities beyond nation-states.

Toomas Hendrik Ilves on Twitter
Úrsula 0'Kuinghtton on Twitter
X-Road introduction video
Cybernetica’s website

00:00 Intro new co-host, Úrsula 0'Kuinghttons
03:00 Estonia as a global leader in the state adoption of technology
09:04 Digitizing a nation via open-source software and distributed systems
18:55 Access to the internet as a basic human right
25:24 The weaponization of the internet
30:22 Regulating social media
38:46 Defining order and proximity in the digital world
50:20 Governance of online communities
54:56 Social media platforms: responsibilities, and oversight
01:14:30 (e)Residency unbound by offline territorial borders

Key Quotes
"If you are going to have digital records you gotta have something to maintain integrity and the way to do it is blockchain. I mean, I don't understand how all of these companies in the world and governments have digital records and don’t put them on blockchain just for security."

"Question the need to use illiberal methods to preserve liberal democracy."