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A better tomorrow for ICT and eGovernment?

17th April 2019

A few days ago, Estonia’s eGovernment Academy released a new National Cyber Security Index. It came as a surprise to many that the Czech Republic was in pole position. In a very short period of time, Czech legislators have been able to develop a highly professional cybersecurity body, represented by the National Cyber and Information Security Agency (NÚKIB). Unfortunately, this achievement aside, the country makes little contribution to global cyber security. This all begs the question: why is a country with such an advanced cybersecurity policy lagging so far behind in other ICT fields? Even worse, the Czech Republic came 43rd in the ICT Developed Index published by the same Academy.

Since the 2000s, Czech governments have released several “eGovernment” projects and databases with various purposes, which have not always delivered the seamless result expected. For example, while Czech Point is now one of the most important features of eGovernment state services for citizens, ministries have been prone to a scattergun approach that has culminated in an absurd number of registers that it is simply unviable to control properly. Because they are not interlinked, citizens must give the same personal data to different state authorities essentially every time they come into contact with them.

Is the future looking brighter for ICT and eGovernment nowadays? With the ambitious new Innovation Strategy of the Czech Republic 2019-2030 (better known by its motto, “The Czech Republic – a Country for the Future), released earlier this year, the answer is probably yes. In its section on digitalisation, the strategy defines goals and, for the first time, specific tools. One example is the legislative proposal on the right to digital services, guaranteeing Czech citizens fully electronic communication with state authorities in just five years. For perhaps the first time in modern history, a legislative draft has the support of 137 MPs across the political spectrum (out of 200). Moreover, the co-author of the strategy, Karel Havlíček, is set to be appointed as the new industry and trade minister.

Prime minister Andrej Babiš obviously aspires to implement reforms that will ensure he makes it into the history books. In doing so, he has managed to garner positive support among most Czech citizens and, what is more, the opposition political parties. It seems that his decision to back digitalisation and new technologies, as the embodiment of his ambitions, will be successful.

Jan Herec

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