Building trust in the digital era: achieving Scotland's aspirations as an ethical digital nation

An Expert group supported by public and stakeholder insights has reviewed evidence and provided recommendations which will support and inform future policy. The report has a focus on building trust with the people of Scotland through engaging them in digital decisions that affect their lives.


History of the Expert Group

The idea for a national expert group in digital ethics arose out of a set of consultation exercises by the Scottish Government’s Digital Directorate in 2019 (Scottish Government, 2020) aimed at understanding the ethical challenges presented by its emerging strategy. This included a series of stakeholder consultation exercises, an informal literature search and a commissioned review of how other countries are responding to the ethical challenges presented by digital society.

Group members were selected from a wider list of experts developed by the Chair and members of the directorate. The majority of members are academics working in areas related to digital ethics, from a range of backgrounds including law, philosophy, social science, engineering and data protection. During their deliberations, the Expert Group has also reached out to national and international experts and leaders in digital technology and policy. In parallel with the expert group, the Chair and members of the Expert Group contributed to a deliberative public engagement exercise organised by Involve and Carnegie UK, including giving talks, observing the discussions and reviewing reports. This approach has helped to ensure the linkage between the local experts, a wider community of practice, and a deliberative public panel including a cross-section of people from Scotland.

The report editors owe considerable thanks to the members of the Expert Group and contributors who have given so freely of their time and expertise to support the building out of the broader concepts and content of the report, as well as their specific case study contributions. The Expert Group and contributors have provided a diverse range of perspectives on this foundational report, however it should be noted that the final content, conclusions and recommendations has been decided upon by the report’s editors. Whilst the Expert Group and contributors are supportive of the overall aims of the report, it may not necessarily, on all details, represent the individual views of the experts or their institutions.

National Digital Ethics Public Panel (mini-public)

The National Digital Ethics Public Panel[1] brought together a broadly representative group of 30 people from across Scotland to learn, discuss and deliberate on key aspects of digital ethics. The focus was to explore how Scotland could mitigate the potential risks and harms that the growing use and reliance on digital technologies poses to individuals and to society more broadly, while maximising the benefits and opportunities. Recommendations, quotes and insights from the National Digital Ethics Public Panel have been used to inform this report and are integrated within it. The full report from the National Digital Ethics Public Panel is available to review as a separate publication, which is highly recommended to be read in conjunction with this report, for the valuable insights gained.



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