9. An Ethical Digital Nation
The use of data and digital technology raises important new ethical and moral questions about the kind of society we want to be. These include concerns about personal privacy and digital security, the ways in which the facts can become distorted through social media or the way in which governments work with and regulate the tech industry. We need to ensure that digital services operate to high ethical standards to protect personal privacy, give people control of their personal information and ensure transparency – candidness and transparency play a crucial role in maintaining and building trust in digital.
This reaches far beyond the borders of Scotland or the powers that we have in national and local government. The way we respond to these and other emerging issues is critical to the kind of country and society we aspire to be. To be able to influence the decisions made in international arenas requires us to be recognised internationally as an ethical digital nation and to have the confidence to engage with citizen groups, regulators, companies, academics and other governments at a global level.
Delivering this ambitious digital agenda is vital as we work manage and mitigate the considerable risks arising from EU-Exit. The Scottish Government is clear about the challenges post-Brexit barriers will create – to trading with the world’s biggest market; to attracting EU talent so vital to our technology sector’s success; to collaborating across borders on research and data-driven innovation, based on shared values, ethics and goals.
Digital platforms open up the potential for government to consult more widely, share openly and to involve people across Scotland in shaping how we grow and thrive in a Digital world. In accordance with the principles of Open Government, we will engage openly with people on issues such as privacy, ethics, and inclusion, listen to their views and act transparently so that we explain how decisions are taken and so that we are accountable for our performance.
Potential actions to enable Scotland to be recognised internationally as an ethical digital nation and boost wellbeing.
- Set out a vision: We will deliver a framework to support an ethical digital nation, and embed these principles in the way we design and build digital public services to ensure the public voice is at the core of how we do this. In doing this we aim to build trust that the technologies we use are designed with integrity, public benefit and are transparent. We will do this through open dialogue with the public, experts and the wider digital sector.
- Increase community engagement and participation: We will use digital technology to facilitate better community engagement and participation, so people can play an increased role, wherever they live in Scotland, in issues such as consultation and participatory budgeting. In doing this we will ensure that digital technology improves access to data about local needs and assets to allow communities to make informed decisions. Increasing engagement and participation will also promote wellbeing, by ensuring that people have a say in policies that matter to them.
- Increase collaboration with other governments: We will build on the foundations established by our membership of the Wellbeing Economy Government (WEGo) group, to take an active international role on issues such as cyber security, artificial intelligence, the regulation of technology and the organisations that provide them, tacking the climate emergency and creating smart economies based on the humane use of technology . Whilst we may lack formal powers in some of these areas, will bring a fresh, progressive, evidence based perspective to the debate facilitate greater geopolitical digital cooperation that promotes innovation, protects privacy and ensures equitable access to the benefits of technology.
- Build public trust in the use of data: We will provide citizens with even greater assurance that we are using their data effectively for public benefit, efficiently and safely to deliver high quality public services and government. As part of this we will further enhance our Information Governance practices, ensure that cyber resilience and cyber security principles are built into all aspects of data solutions given the need for secure data handling to increase trust and mitigate the risk of data manipulation by malicious actors.
- Making more of our data available openly: We will renew our focus on data which will improve transparency, open government and create economic opportunity.
- Digital Rights: We will make sure that all of our approaches to establishing an ethical digital nation balance digital rights with the responsibility at individual and state level to be accountable for our actions through independent scrutiny. This will ensure public benefit rather than commercial value is the driving force and that actions are transparent and outcomes are clearly established.