"I want everybody to be secure, included and confident in the Digital Society that Scotland will become."
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary Culture, Tourism and External Affairs
- 82% of adults use the internet for personal use.
- 81% of adults have basic digital literacy.
- A third of citizens over 75 use the internet.
- Almost 3/4 of adults in the most deprived areas use the internet for personal use, compared to around 90% in the least deprived.
- Enables everybody to share in the social, economic and democratic opportunities of digital
- Creates the conditions which safeguards workers and enables society to address concerns about the digital world
The changes that technology brings to our society are every bit as significant as the changes that it brings to our economy. Digital allows information to be transmitted faster and further than ever before, enabling us to develop new communities of interest and opening up new opportunities for education, commerce, creativity, friendship and leisure. In doing so however, it raises new challenges around security, information literacy and privacy. Whilst digital puts greater power in the hands of consumers and offers unprecedented access to decision makers, we have also seen doubts raised around the world about the impact that weighted or false information can have on democratic processes.
Scotland's Labour Market Strategy  published in August 2016 acknowledged the impact that technological advances in manufacturing, automation and robotics will have on the labour market,  the workplace and on workers. Again, there may be positives as repetitive tasks are automated or digitisation supports home working and has a positive impact on our work-life balance. However, there are also potential negatives with new forms of employment putting pressure on wages and mobile technology making it difficult for workers to "switch off" when they are at home.
"We want to inspire our young people to be curious, creative and passionate about technology."
David Sibbald, Chair of the Glasgow Science Centre Board
Our starting point is an absolute commitment to protecting the privacy rights of individuals. People want to know that public authorities and other organisations respect their privacy and recognise the harm which may be done if personal information is collected or held unnecessarily, or is lost or misused. We also recognise however that doubts and suspicions remain about the downside of digital. We believe that we have a duty to acknowledge both these concerns and reflect them in the way in which we encourage debate, develop legislation and help people to access information and services. We will only create and sustain a society that is at ease with itself in the digital world if we are open and transparent and not only comply with data protection and human rights legislation,  but look outwards and ensure that such legislation keeps pace with changes in digital technology.
The very groups most likely to gain disproportionately from the benefits of being on line through financial savings, reduced isolation and access to employment opportunities are those most likely to be excluded. 99% of households in the highest income groups now enjoy access to the internet, but it is far less widespread amongst the elderly, the disabled, those living in social housing and people on low incomes.
"The Housing Sector can play its part in the digital revolution, developing and creating new services fit for the digital age."
Martin Pollhammer, Chief Executive, East Lothian Housing Association
The Scottish Government reaffirms its determination to play a central role in a national movement for change to promote digital participation. Our aim is to ensure that everybody has the opportunity to participate in the digital world and to use the power of the internet to enable social mobility and tackle persistent inequalities. This starts with the basic digital skills that are required to search or buy goods and services online, use social networks and have an understanding of how to act in a safe and secure way. But it must go beyond that. People are at different points of their digital journey and many feel uncomfortable about the level of change that they see going on around them. We will therefore support the further expansion of the Digital Participation Charter and provide funds for community groups that enjoy the trust of those who are excluded from the digital world and can create both the reasons and deliver the training required to help people to go online for the first time. We will also ensure that as we roll new forms of connectivity out across the country, we work with housing associations, third sector organisations and other community groups to prototype affordable internet access at home and in other trusted settings.
Actions to support people and communities through social changes:
- Ensure that the findings of the Youth Commission into digital rights supported by Young Scot are discussed at the highest levels of government and form the basis of a wider public debate on rights in a digital age
- Use the Year of Young People 2018 as a platform to establish a clear commitment to digital rights and responsibilities that empower people to access the digital world creatively, knowledgeably and fearlessly
- Ensure digital rights and responsibilities are embedded in skills frameworks and formal qualifications by working with Education Scotland, Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Qualifications Authority in addition to community and third sector organisations
- Review how automation and digitisation will impact on the future of work, including its impact on wages, rights, access to social protection and training opportunities by working with the Fair Work Convention, the new Strategic Labour Market Group and other partners
- Support and safeguard the interest of workers and ensure fair digital work by working with Scotland's trade unions and others
- Work with industry and our public agencies, through the high-level Tourism Working Group, to maximise digital opportunities for the visitor economy
- Ensure the potential opportunities and implications of the latest technological developments are understood and harnessed by working with the Scottish Government's science advisory system
Actions to promote digital inclusion and participation:
- Launch a new round of funding for community digital inclusion projects providing practical, hands on support for digital training throughout Scotland
- Expand the Digital Participation Charter, getting more organisations committed to training their staff in basic digital skills and contributing to community inclusion initiatives
- Review our approach to promoting the benefits of being online to increase participation levels
- Form a Ministerial Action Group which will draw on a broad range of expertise across all sectors and interests. It will take an evidence-based approach to addressing digital exclusion amongst all age groups
- Close the opportunity gap by working with housing associations, third sector organisations and other community groups to prototype affordable internet access at home and in other trusted settings
Email: Alan Rodden