The EDPS has noted that “while the Europe-wide rollout of smart metering systems may bring significant benefits, it will also enable massive collection of personal data”.
Smart meters are set to be rolled out from 2014 with some energy suppliers already installing the technology, and a full nationwide switch to smart meters expected to be complete by 2020.
Smart meters will allow households to see precisely how much energy they are using and help them make savings, as well as providing accurate billing and giving energy suppliers the ability to suggest more suitable tariffs.
However, the EDPS has warned that the collection of personal data could also impinge on privacy. Giovanni Buttarelli, assistant director of the EDPS said: “Profiles (of energy consumption) can be used for many other purposes, including marketing, advertising and price discrimination by third parties.”
The report is calling for safeguards to be introduced under legislation to ensure smart meters do not breach data protection, including guidance on how often meter readings can be taken, how long the data can be stored for, and the algorithms that help companies create profiles.