Data and Intelligence Network: ethics framework

Sets out the principles our network will adhere to when running data and intelligence projects so we can deliver insight on the pandemic and wider data issues at pace while keeping ethics at the forefront of our thinking.

Transparency, Monitoring and Scrutiny

This speed of response to the pandemic makes the scrutiny and monitoring of the work of the D&IN, and the transparency of the processes, absolutely vital. There should be a culture of proactive publication, both about the D&IN itself and the work it is delivering. Public engagement and participation should be seen as a matter of routine, particularly where the use of data is contentious.

Publications should be in language that can be understood by the public and easily accessible. Where possible to do so securely, the D&IN should also publish the methodology, metadata about the analytical or research model, and/or the model itself.

Eventually the D&IN may benefit from having a distinctive web platform, but initially it may have to make use of a number of existing sites of the partner organisations involved in the D&IN.

Having effective systems to identify who is responsible for applying the Ethics Framework at each decision point will ensure the operating model has advice at the right points. However, it does not provide independent scrutiny. In the medium term, given the exceptional circumstances and the practical difficulties in providing high quality and effective public engagement when projects are being delivered at speed, consideration should must, therefore, be given to providing external scrutiny to monitor and oversee the operation and to assess whether the outputs of the D&IN have delivered public benefit set out in their Ethics Assessment at the beginning of the project.

In the short term this could be provided by an advisory board of experts appointed by Scottish Government (to take over from short-term task and finish groups created to establish the D&IN). In the longer term a more effective means of securing independent advice would be the appointment of a Data Ethics Guardian or Commissioner for Scotland.

In addition, there is an opportunity for Scotland to innovate by having the Guardian or the Data and Intelligence (D&IN) appoint a panel of randomly selected members of the public, informed by wider and deeper public engagement as appropriate, thus effectively creating 'citizen auditors' to monitor the work of the D&IN. They would be supported by a small number of expert advisers.



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