Insight report

Welsh Government Digital Ethics Report

4/14/2022

By Dr. Gilad Rosner & Prof. Andrew McStay

The Chief Digital Officer of the Welsh government is in an ideal position to become a point of expertise on the ethical design and use of public sector technology projects in Wales. Under the heading of ‘Digital Well-being,’ the Chief Digital Officer can align a general mandate to do digital and data ethics within Wales with the legal and moral imperatives of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. This Act, however, is ‘missing’ any significant reference to technology and its interaction with society. Nonetheless, in conjunction with its moral antecedent, the UN Sustainability Development Goals, it provides a clear set of norms and values by which to ethically guide technology projects being developed and launched by Welsh public bodies and Local Councils. This report distils those norms and values into a set of technology governance imperatives and practical guidance for the Chief Digital Officer to use in its interactions with public bodies, Welsh Ministers, and the Future Generations Commissioner.

The report includes

  • Recommendations:
    • Seeing the Well-being of Future Generations Act as the ‘moral North Star’ for doing digital ethics in Wales.
    • Including the UN Sustainability Development Goals as core elements of the norms and values guiding Welsh digital ethics.
    • Using the Precautionary Principle to help guide approaches to technology governance.
    • Using the idea of ‘Digital Well-being’ to align technology ethics and governance with existing Welsh political discourse.
    • The Chief Digital Officer becoming a key source of expertise to address the ‘missing piece’ of the Future Generations Act, directly helping the Welsh
    • Ministers, the Future Generations Commissioner, and the Auditor General to add digital technology considerations to their well-being development activities.
    • Developing a generalized approach to addressing the particular and technology-specific questions the Chief Digital Officer is fielding.
    • Using digital ethics to consider the powers granted under the UK Digital Economy Act.
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