Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie and Greens’ co-convener Patrick Harvie both attended the launch of Open Rights Group Scotland yesterday. Immediately after First Minister’s Questions, they gathered in a smoke-filled Garden lobby (the cafe was having an indoor barbecue to celebrate the start of the Summer holidays) to talk to journalists and pose for photographs.
As the SNP Government ramps up its plans for a National ID database that’s more powerful and intrusive than anything Labour ever came up with, and as Edinburgh plans to integrate all its CCTV systems, there is a lot for the digital rights organisation to do.
Willie Rennie said:
The way in which we work, socialise, buy products and use services has changed dramatically since the digital revolution.
But government and politicians have responded at a snail’s pace and have failed to ensure the rights of citizens, consumers, journalists, businesses and children are protected online.
I am delighted to be part of the launch of Open Rights Group Scotland. It will help drive digital rights up the agenda in Scotland so that we can build a fairer society which enshrines civil liberties in every part of our lives.
I asked Willie and Pol Clementsmith, ORG’s Scotland Officer, how they would win the arguments on this among young people who are so used to leaving a massive digital footprint that it may not worry them.
Pol Clementsmith told me that ORG runs Digital Self Defence classes where they teach young people about protecting their privacy online.
For Willie, individual choice was the key:
The crucial thing in all those circumstances is the individual decides whereas the government decides on behalf of the individual when it’s the government schemes and I think that’s unacceptable. I think the Government should look south of the border to the scheme that’s been identified down there which is fragmented but crucially individuals own their own data so there’s digital rights at the heart of those proposals.
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings