The Dept. of Energy released a report this week on access and privacy issues related to Smart Grid technologies. From the report, the Overview of Data Access and Privacy Concerns:
Recognizing and addressing the significant concerns with access to and privacy protection for energy usage data are critical to the development of U.S. Smart Grid policies because of the enormous potential of consumer and authorized third party access to energy consumption data through the use of Smart Grid technologies, and the continued importance of utility access to such data.
Advances in Smart Grid technology could significantly increase the amount of potentially available information about personal energy consumption. Such information could reveal personal details about the lives of consumers, such as their daily schedules (including times when they are at or away from home or asleep), whether their homes are equipped with alarm systems, whether they own expensive electronic equipment such as plasma TVs, and whether they use certain types of medical equipment. Consumers rightfully expect that the privacy of this information will be maintained. The proprietary business information of non-residential customers could also be revealed through the release of energy consumption data, resulting in competitive harm. Studies conducted by utilities and consumer advocates have consistently shown that privacy issues are of tremendous import to consumers of electricity.
At the same time, access to consumer data continues to be of importance to utilities for operational purposes and to achieve the important national goals, discussed above, that Smart Grid technologies will advance. In addition, access to such data by consumers and authorized third parties has significant potential to enable American consumers to understand their energy use, and thus become more proactive in managing that use, ultimately saving money on their energy bills and becoming more efficient consumers of energy.
DOE recognizes that issues of data access and privacy are not entirely new. DOE commends the utilities‘ strong track record of protecting the privacy of customer data and acknowledges the traditional responsibility of state utility commissions in regulating issues associated with data privacy. The findings set forth in this report build up the continuing efforts of these entities to protect customer privacy, as well as the efforts of third party service providers and consumer groups to foster responsible data access to achieve the goals of Smart Grid. DOE believes that these findings will be applicable to issues of privacy and access that will continue to remain at the forefront as the technologies associated with Smart Grid continue to evolve.
Read the entire report here (pdf).
Via @PrivacyProf. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.