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Sopra Steria helps support the Scottish Government’s aspirations to becoming an Ethical Digital Nation

Recent developments in Artificial Intelligence, and a spotlight on the governance and ethics of technology more widely, have prompted governments around the world to think about how to best protect their citizens against digital harms.

In 2021, the Scottish Government expressed its ambition to become an Ethical Digital Nation, ahead of many others. Its Digital Strategy, sets out a vision for a society “where people can trust public services and businesses to respect privacy and be open and honest in the way data is being used. Where digital technologies adopt the principles of privacy, resilience and harm reduction by design and are inclusive, fair and useful.”

Sopra Steria worked in partnership with the Digital Citizen Unit in Scottish Government’s Digital Directorate to support them in realising their vision.

Building trust in the digital era

The Scottish Government’s Digital Strategy sets out eight principles of a digital nation recognising that “An Ethical Digital Nation must go beyond the protection of individual data and privacies which are existing legal rights and engage fully with all sectors and citizens to understand their concerns and the trade-offs and choices they are prepared to make”.

Sopra Steria initially conducted regulatory and best practice mapping to understand what actions could be taken to most effectively advance Scotland’s Ethical Digital Nation ambitions. This started with looking at how the Scottish Government could further support the digital rights of citizens, including by introducing a National Digital Guardian – helping to map the existing landscape and explore the possible scope for such a service.

Empowering progress towards an Ethical Digital Nation

A 12-week discovery project was conducted that informed regulatory and best practice mapping, as well as stakeholder engagement across a number of Directorates – to better understand how the Ethical Digital Nation ambitions could be realised across the entire government.

A prioritised action plan and roadmap to achieve the vision was produced, taking into account the existing initiatives across Scotland that the Government would build upon. To ensure a joined-up approach, close engagement with senior stakeholders was paramount, capturing the key challenges across different areas of government.

The Scottish Government said “We are committed to delivering programmes that enable the Scottish Government to position the citizen at the heart of digital services and encourage ethical and trustworthy use of data and digital technologies. Working with Sopra Steria has allowed us to consider a prioritised action plan with tangible outcomes and a roadmap for a clear direction on Scotland’s ambitions as an Ethical Digital Nation.”

The recommendations have enabled the Scottish Government to consider measurable and proportionate actions to progress against its roadmap to becoming an Ethical Digital Nation.

The focus on building expertise and education will help the Scottish Government build resilience throughout communities and across the government. And the focus on stakeholder engagement meant they were able to identify and build on pockets of existing expertise. This not only prevents the duplication of effort and resource, but also enables quicker realisation of benefits for both the Scottish Government and its citizens.

It will mean that people living in Scotland have a better understanding of their rights and routes for redress, increasing their trust and subsequent adoption of digital solutions.

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