Ilves Extols Transparency, Open Data at UK Google Conference


President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said in remarks at a prestigious Google conference that IT solutions helped make Estonia bigger than its geographic borders.

"The decisions adopted right after re-independence, such as computer studies in schools and providing free Internet connections in schools nationally along with functioning IT solutions and e-services have made Estonia greater than its geographic borders," Ilves said at Zeitgeist 2013, held in Hertfordshire.

"We're a small country, but one with free high-speed Internet connections. Thanks to that, we see new opportunities and create innovative IT solutions, which are at once our greatest foreign aid article," said the president, according to

The conversation with Ilves was moderated by Google Ideas founder and director Jared Cohen, who is one of the authors of "The New Digital Age."

In the exchange, Cohen asked Ilves how to reduce corruption.

"The more openness and the more data is public and accessible via Internet in a society - such as on government spending - the less corruption there is," said Ilves. "A computer cannot be bribed."

"The most important thing is not to lose the will as a country to do things a new way. Losing it leads to stagnation."

Today, Ilves will visit the House of Commons and meet with MPs at the behest of the Henry Jackson Society, a think-tank. He is due to return to Estonia late Tuesday.