Devolved voice in Scotland vital for securing human rights in the digital age

This article originally appeared in Scotland on Sunday 25 June 2017 as Matthew Rice: Devolved voice vital for digital security

The role of technology in Scotland is more important than ever. According to recent reports, the digital technology sector is Scotland’s fastest growing sector, providing opportunities for jobs and innovation. Technology is also driving solutions for delivery of public services and for communities. There are great opportunities for a positive, inclusive, digital society to be fostered in Scotland.

There are great risks emerging due to the use of technology, however. In the past, proposals for the centralisation of Scottish citizens’ personal data into one central database for more than 100 public bodies to access represents the truly ugly side of technological determinism that undermines the right to privacy and puts people at risk. Thankfully, those proposals for expanded access were dropped, but the database remains in place. The Scottish public deserve a much stronger voice in these debates, and Open Rights Group’s aim is to help develop that voice to influence debates that affect privacy and freedom of speech in Scotland.

Decisions taken in Scotland, either by the Scottish Government, through representatives in Westminster, or in Brussels via Scots MEPs are going to be of more significance than ever before. In a political landscape where the direction of travel for powers is towards more devolution it is vital that Scotland is recognised as a society with different considerations, a shared history but possibly a different future to other parts of the UK.

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