The Daily Mail and others have recently been fomenting anxiety to do with smart metering. A spy in every home! The energy companies will know when you have a poo! Etc. There’s no questions that privacy is a critical issue for smart metering. But the recent media hysteria has been extremely unhelpful in promoting reasonable discussion.
Darren over at Bealers.com has written up an excellent summary of smart metering privacy facts. Worth a read.
Here’s the upshot:
- Protection in addition to the Data Protection Act is on the way, but not yet finalised. Upcoming DECC proposals must clarify issues such as police access to data.
- If you sample meter data every 2 seconds and throw several post docs at it, you might be able to work out what TV show someone is watching…
- …but in the UK, suppliers will only be able to capture half hourly data and only if you opt in.
- Unless you tell them otherwise, power companies can only collect daily aggregated data.
- The biggest danger of “spying” through analysis of consumption data is likely to arise from people providing their own metering data to third parties.
Importantly, the power companies will not be able to work out when you’re having a poo. And more to the point they won’t care. Man, that is some Freudian paranoia going on there.
As part of modern life we all need to develop the skills required to protect our personal data. Managing our own energy consumption data will be an important part of this. But before people get too worked up and do something crazy (like buy a copy of the Daily Mail), they might want to consider just how much personal information they’re already putting into the public domain. I’d love to write more on this but I have to go. #JustHavingAPoo