Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Smart Meter Privacy

John Udel has raised Smart Meters up the conciousness ladder in a timely post.
Smart meters are new. But we can’t afford to think that every new technology rewrites all the rules, requiring new legislation which, as we know, can never keep pace with innovation. Here’s a powerful simplifying rule: It’s your data. That’s the default. And you shouldn’t need to be a do-it-yourselfer to assert ownership. Even if you use a utility-supplied meter, as most people will, it’s still your data.
It's your data??? I am not sure that it is so simple. It is 'their' accounting record. The meter certainly reveals something about the occupier, which is not necessarily the other party to the power company contract, and there are certainly undesirable uses for the information - for example knowing that the house has a pattern of occupation.
There needs to be an auditable protocol for dealing with the handling of the broad swathe of surveillance data from smart power meters to smart parking and cctv but I don't think it starts with "It's my data"!
I am looking forward to the views of the NZ Privacy Commisioner on this. I would hope that some clear direction is given so that surveillance data which can be associated with individuals is treated in the same way as Personal Information and therefore covered by the privacy principles. Attaching some teeth to the principles would be good too, but one step at a time.

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