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Forget Trump and Brexit, let’s all go live in the internet


IF YOU live in the UK or US, your sense of national allegiance may have faltered this year. Brexit and the election of Donald Trump have left many people feeling their country is increasingly unrecognisable. Emigration isn’t an easy way out, though. What if you could opt in to the laws of another country without moving there?

Thanks to Estonia’s e-residency scheme, you can – and the basic idea is one that’s set to grow. Next year, you will be able to file for digital citizenship of Lithuania, and other states are planning similar schemes. One day, perhaps, it will extend to groups other than countries. So what happens when we all up sticks to the internet?

E-residency is not true citizenship. You won’t be able to vote or live in Estonia, and won’t have to pay its taxes. Instead, think of it as the right to reside in the Estonian cloud, in exchange for €100 and a few identity checks.

What does that get you? For one thing, unfettered access to the European Union single market, something many UK citizens may want post-Brexit. It is already helping Stanislav Yurin. Based in Ukraine – outside the EU – Yurin uses his e-residency to help him sell paintings internationally. “Ukraine is facing a pretty turbulent economic situation,” he says: Paypal is blocked, and local payment systems are hamstrung by cumbersome regulations and taxes, he says. “They’re hard to use for small businesses.”

“A nation could be the ground you’re standing on, or the shared ideologies that bind a group”

“More and more people are becoming global citizens,” says Tavi Kotka, who oversees information security for …

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