This article first appeared in The Atlantic https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/02/virtual-citizenship-for-sale/553733/ and AAM's Dispatches from the Future of Museums http://www.aam-us.org/resources/center-for-the-future-of-museums
Citizenship and its varying legal definition has become one of the key battlegrounds of the 21st century, as nations attempt to stake out their power in a G-Zero, globalized world, one increasingly defined by transnational, borderless trade and liquid, virtual finance.
Alongside the rise of populist, identitarian movements across the globe, identity itself is being virtualized, too. It no longer needs to be tied to place or nation to function in the global marketplace. In 2014, Estonia started offering a slice of its citizenship as a digital service. Since then, it has registered more than 30,000 e-residents, who are permitted to open bank accounts, start companies, sign documents, and pay tax under Estonian jurisdiction and law.
In principle, nothing would prevent the Estonian model from being generalized to other guarantors of state protection, including wider legal rights and health care, which are of more concern to the less fortunate. READ MORE