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Respecting Customer Privacy

By Phill Feltham

Achieving the gold standard in data protection for the Smart Grid

BY ANN CAVOUKIAN, Ryerson University’s Privacy and Big Data Institute

The increased amount of information that is collected, used, and analyzed by the Smart Grid brings with it additional privacy and security concerns which must be addressed not only for regulatory compliance but, above all, customer satisfaction and trust.

Some electric utilities view the Smart Grid as an extension of current functions and are satisfied with a ‘business-as-usual’ approach. If this is the case, then those utilities might be missing opportunities to address proactively additional privacy and security issues that arise from the Smart Grid’s transformative nature.

New challenges arise with the collection of more granular data than ever before on customers’ energy consumption, such as ensuring consumer adoption of Smart Grid energy saving programs is not impeded by fears relating to privacy and data security.

These aforementioned challenges require utilities to adopt a framework for embedding privacy and data protection controls into the design and architecture of information technology (IT) systems. This feature by Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner will introduce Privacy by Design, an internationally recognized framework, and show how such a privacy framework can be applied to the Smart Grid to achieve maximum data protection without diminishing system functionality.

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