THE Scottish Government has rejected a “data-harvesting” proposal put forward by Westminster over a lack of transparency.

Holyrood Brexit Secretary Michael Russell has raised concerns about a lack of transparency in the plan, which would involve data from users of websites being collected and shared.

He rejected the UK Government proposal in a letter to Sir Mark Sedwill, Cabinet Secretary and head of the UK civil service, warning that users would not be aware their data was being used in the scheme.

According to Russell, the response was prompted by media reports of the Brexit Daily Operations Committee – codenamed XO – plans to track user data.

A request was received from the UK Government to participate in the project on September 2.

In the letter, Russell wrote: "The Scottish Government takes the privacy of citizens' data very seriously and is committed to ensuring that the personal data we hold complies with the Data Protection Act and the General Data Protection Regulation.

"We believe that it is vital to act in this way in order to maintain public trust in the information that we provide through our websites.

"No such proposal could be considered until I have been provided with meaningful and demonstrable assurance that the data-sharing complies with data protection laws, that the required safeguards are in place, and on the uses to which the data will be put."

He added: "I am concerned, in particular, about the lack of transparency in the current proposal.

"I do not believe that a citizen using a website such as or will be aware or expect that their personal data is being linked in this manner."

A Scottish Government spokesman also criticised the scheme

He said: "This would appear to be a data-harvesting exercise. The Scottish Government have been asked to participate in the sharing of personal data in relation to Government websites in 'Brexit-related journeys', as they are described.

"We have very deep concerns about what's being proposed here, in terms of the sharing of personal data.

"We need a clearer understanding of the purpose of this activity, the use that may be made of the data and the ways in which it will be ensured that it can't be used for inappropriate purposes."