Scotland looks to protect public data

The Scottish government is to set up a new data privacy group to look at the protection of citizen data.

The group, made up of privacy and IT security experts, will examine the procedures for handling personal and sensitive data and develop a set of draft guidelines for the region's public sector organisations.

John Swinney, Scottish finance secretary, said: "While I am confident that public bodies are already working to high standards of IT security, we recognise the need to ensure public confidence in the public sector's handling of personal information."

The announcement also said the new group's remit will include all areas where IT is used to deliver public services, including libraries, car parking and online payment services.

The Scottish government also launched a public consultation into the use of biometric technology in Scottish schools.

Like the data privacy group launch, the Scottish government said the consultation was intended to build public confidence in biometrics security. It will look at whether the use of fingerprint or palm-scanning systems in attendance and canteen scenarios "can be perceived as more intrusive than other systems".

The consultation document said debate was needed to establish whether the use of such biometric systems was suitable in educational environments. But it did recognise their benefits: "For example, in relation to catering or borrowing books, pupils do not need to remember to bring anything with them to the canteen or school library, so nothing can be lost, such as a swipe card," it said.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.