A right to be forgotten

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Opinion

I have written repeatedly about my scepticism regarding the £14bn Smart Meter programme I remain unconvinced that those spending what is electricity customers’ money so freely, have really thought through all the potential consequences.

For instance, take the detailed consumption data concerning each smart-metered premises, getting their hands upon which being of the main reasons why the Big Six energy companies have been so enthusiastic.

There is now a new “right to be forgotten”. While this is intended to allow people to have material removed from social networks – perhaps because of embarrassment – or to erase an unwanted past association, it applies to anyone who has had data collected on them even with their full consent.

A domestic smart energy meter is collecting personal data. If this is processed by a third party for the utility company, that third party must have a clear contract that covers all aspects of the use, protection, retention and disposal of the data. If the processor falls short, the utility will be liable, just as if it had fallen short.

If the meter data collector suffers a breach involving personal information, there are strict rules for disclosure – not just to the utility firm, but also to customers whose personal data may have been compromised. And the deadline is short: in many cases 72 hours.

If this programme installing 53 million new meters is ever completed, I can easily see that it will likely be providing an enormous increase in work for m’learned friends in the Courts, suing the Big Six energy companies.

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