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by Staff reporter
28 April 2016
What the parties have to say on digital ahead of Holyrood election

What the parties have to say on digital ahead of Holyrood election

With just a week to go to the Scottish Parliament election and all party manifestos now published, Connect takes a look at what the parties are promising in the fields of digital connectivity and technology.

All are promising an expansion of superfast broadband while there are also commitments to put more money into training for digital skills as well as calls for more access to data. Below is a flavour of the pledges contained in each. 


  • Deliver superfast broadband to 100 per cent of premises in Scotland by 2021
  • Refresh the internet safety action plan, linking it to the strategy on digital participation so that appropriate frameworks of training, support and information are in place for professionals and families, including children and young people
  • Offer young people qualifications, knowledge and training in sectors with known skills gaps such as engineering, digital technology, science, life science and construction
  • Actions to develop joint research and development initiatives between academic institutions and businesses
  • Direct the enterprise agencies to focus on building a scale-up programme for start-up companies
  • Streamline the advice available to businesses to ensure resources are effectively deployed to support start-up and scale-up ventures and simplify the way companies are able to access support for innovation
  • Launch a new innovation prize with an annual award for the collaborative project that produces the optimum commercialisation from investment activity
  • Focus business development interventions to capitalise on the benefits of digital connectivity



  • Every home and business in Scotland connected to fast broadband by the end of the decade under the UK government’s Universal Service Obligation
  • An additional £5m a year for Community Broadband Scotland and an extension of the eligibility criteria to businesses, charities and individuals
  • An additional 10,000 apprenticeships per year by the end of parliament
  • Work with businesses to create an additional 10 skills academies
  • Independent inquiry into troubled IT system at the centre of delays over farmers' subsidy payments

Liberal Democrats

  • Complete coverage of superfast broadband and mobile phone coverage across Scotland
  • Establish a Fit for the Future investment fund which would enable more rapid expansion of superfast broadband and mobile phone coverage by trebling the community broadband fund
  • Stop the creation of the Scottish Government’s ID database
  • Take steps to safeguard people from the misuse of their data, CCTV images or biometric information
  • Stop publicly-funded bodies sharing their clients’ telephone numbers without express permission
  • Extend Freedom of Information to private and voluntary sector bodies performing public services


  • Seek to ensure digital access is available to all
  • Support the Scottish Government in its efforts to have fibre broadband reach 95 per cent of Scotland by 2018 and push for faster action on the remaining five per cent
  • Transferable digital skills to be taught in schools and businesses to better engage with education on the issue
  • Extend the Freedom of Information laws to automatically apply to any organisation performing a public function and campaign to end exemption for the royal family
  • Fight for all public authorities to routinely publish public data they produce (with exemptions for personal information) in easily useable formats through a national online open public data gateway


  • Work with mobile phone providers to ensure good mobile phone coverage across Scotland
  • Address internet speeds in rural areas and reduced speeds due to overloading and high usage in urban areas
  • Oppose the creation of a "super ID database"


  • Oppose the growth in surveillance and the mass harvesting of online data
  • Campaign for a digital bill of rights – which would make internet access a basic right and have strong cryptography for all internet sessions – working with Open Rights Group Scotland and Open Knowledge Scotland to develop it
  • Campaign to end the erosion of the Freedom of Information Act and extend it to private and arms-length organisations receiving public money
  • Expect the Scottish Information Commissioner to remain politically neutral at all times
  • Establish a publicly-owned internet service provider (ISP) to offer broadband at affordable or free rates to all of Scotland
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