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Scottish Government sets terms for unlocking value of public data


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Image source: Onphalai

The Scottish Government has published a report emphasising the importance of engagement and ethics in the private sector’s use of public sector data.

Prepared by an independent expert group and titled Unlocking the value of data, it has been published to help data controllers in the public sector make decisions on releasing or sharing data when they think it could provide benefits to the public.

This involves a series of principles and recommendations, the latter of which are grouped under three headings, the first of which is ‘Engage’, applying to expert stakeholders and the public throughout the data lifecycle.

Second is ‘Enable’, applying to issues such as awareness of the data held, a streamlined approach to data access, shared standards and protocols, and further investigation in technological solutions.

Third is to ‘Ensure’ various steps, including that there is a reasonable public benefit rationale for the sharing, that data protection and equality impact assessments have taken place, that there is transparency in data access provisions and there are appropriate resources for oversight.

The guiding principles cover public and involvement, public interest and benefit, doing no harm, transparency, ensuring the application of law, ethics and best practice, having enabling conditions in place, and carrying out regular reviews.

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In a blogpost accompanying the publication, Professor Angela Daly, chair of the independent expert group, said: “I hope that this report will position Scotland as an internationally leading ethical digital nation. In doing so, Scotland will implement excellence and equity in enabling engagement, and sharing the benefits of private sector use of public sector personal data.

“Furthermore, Scotland can provide an important example of doing data better for other countries and nations.”

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