Energy metres to be installed in every home in the UK could breach privacy

Posted: 04/07/2012

Hi-tech, energy smart metres which track the consumption of energy in a household are to be rolled out across the UK in two years time. It is expected that every home in the UK will have an energy metre by 2019 and the cost of the installation is predicted at £11 billion. The first batch will be introduced in 2014 however, very few home owners know anything about the energy metres and the potential breech of privacy they can cause.

The European Data Protection Supervisor has warned that these energy smart metres will give companies a way to ‘access personal data without any safeguards.’ The EDPS state that it’s not only energy consumption that will be tracked, but many more things you do in the privacy of your home.

The energy metre could track when the homeowner is away, either at work or on holiday, when a certain medical device is used or how they spend their free time, either on a computer or perhaps watching television. The collection of this data will create patterns which can be analysed and exploited for marketing purposes.

If you already have an energy smart metre, it will be replaced before 2019. Some residents in other countries such as Germany stated that they found being under continuous monitoring was like taking part in the Big Brother House, a popular reality T.V series where contestants are constantly under surveillance.

To tackle the potential exploitation of data stored from the energy smart metre, the EDPS has put pressure on the European commission by proposing the introduction of guidance on the frequency of metre readings and how long the data from the metres can be stored.

Would you feel threatened if you believed your energy metre was tracking your personal lifestyle?

Amanda McGovern, Pali Ltd
www.paliltd.com

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