An EU data watchdog has warned of the “considerable risks” to privacy posed by new energy smart meters.
The European Data Protection Supervisor said safeguards were needed over how firms used the “massive collection” of consumers’ data uploaded by meters. The technology is able to track when consumers are at home, how they spend their free time and even what medical devices they use.
UK energy firms and ministers say consumers’ privacy will be protected.But campaign group Privacy International said proposed safeguards did not go far enough.
The government is currently consulting over privacy safeguards on smart meters, due to be installed in 30 million UK homes by 2019. It says consumers should have the option of deciding whether they share detailed information about their use of gas and electricity.
Consumers may be able to opt out of sharing their information on a daily basis, and opt in to sharing more frequently gathered data.
But the EDPS proposed safeguards go further, recommending “freely given, specific, informed and explicit consent” of all use of their data that goes beyond the need for energy billing, fraud detection and the information necessary to run an energy-efficient grid.