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Scottish Government announces probe into use of mobile messaging apps


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Scottish Parliament
Scottish Parliament
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The Scottish Government has commissioned an externally led review into its use of mobile messaging apps and non-corporate devices.

Led by Emma Martins, the former data protection commissioner for the Channel Islands, it will explore whether updates are required to the Ministerial Code and Scottish Civil Service Guidance, with a particular focus on the Scottish Government’s interaction with statutory public inquiries.

The scope will extend to whether the use of apps is relevant in a government setting and where and how relevant data should be stored and retained.

Martins will also examine the value of messaging apps to ministers in emergency situations and draw on best practices used in other jurisdictions to inform her work.

Openness and transparency

Minister for Parliamentary Business George Adam said: “We are committed to openness and transparency and constantly seek to maintain and improve our performance in this area which is why the first minister commissioned this important external review.

“It will consider how mobile messaging apps and personal devices are used in government in line with the principles of digital ethics, records management, freedom of information and human rights.”

The announcement of the review set out a number of areas for consideration. In regard to mobile messaging, these include whether they should be used by ministers for official business and what information should be retained beyond that required to comply with policies on records management.

For non-corporate technology there will be a focus on their value in emergency situations and whether there is adequate process for changing devices.

In regard to the ministerial code and guidance, it will look at where there is a need for any updates.

The issue of ministers using messaging apps has become sensitive in the course of the enquiries into the enquiries of how UK governments responded to the Covid-19 pandemic, with questions over the exchange and retention of messages.

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