B.C. Privacy Commissioner Investigates B.C. Hydro Smart Meters

British Columbia’s Privacy Commissioner is investigating BC Hydro’s Smart Metering Program to ensure that it complies with the province’s privacy law.

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British Columbia’s Privacy Commissioner is investigating BC Hydro’s Smart Metering Program to ensure that it complies with the province’s privacy law.

Commissioner Elizabeth Denham launched her investigation following receipt of numerous complaints that the information collected by smart meters breaches personal privacy.

BC Hydro has recently started installing smart meters and, by the end of 2012, has plans to install more than 1.8 million throughout BC. Rather than measuring energy use for each billing period, as is currently the case, smart meters provide more frequent information about people’s electricity use. The information gathered from individual homes will be transmitted wirelessly back to the Crown corporation, detailing peak usage and other information.

“The privacy and security of energy consumption data is a very real issue for citizens throughout the province,” said Commissioner Denham. “With an increase in the frequency of the information collected from smart meters comes an increased responsibility on BC Hydro to ensure that privacy and security is built into the smart grid.”

Hydro has said that consumption data will remain secure and private, and that the information will be encrypted, “much like online banking.”

The commissioner will investigate whether BC Hydro’s use of smart meters complies with its obligations regarding collection, use, disclosure, retention and security of personal information under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

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