Report issued on smart meters

Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has released a report assessing the privacy and security of BC Hydro’s smart meters.

Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has released a report assessing the privacy and security of BC Hydro’s smart meters.

“It is clear from my investigation that BC Hydro is taking privacy and security seriously as it develops a framework for the implementation of smart meters and a smart grid,” said Commissioner Denham. “But there are areas for improvement.”

BC Hydro is replacing electro-mechanical and digital meters for its more than 1.8 million customers with smart meters. Once fully operational, smart meters will provide hourly information about customers’ electricity consumption. As a result, analysis of household consumption may reveal more information about our daily lives.

The Commissioner found that BC Hydro is complying with the Freedom of Information and Protection and Privacy Act with regard to the collection, use, disclosure, protection and retention of the personal information of its customers. However, the Crown corporation is not in compliance with regard to the notification it provides to its customers about smart meters.

“BC Hydro is required by law to tell their customers the purpose for collecting personal information for the smart meters project, what legal authority they have to do so and to provide contact information for a BC Hydro employee who can answer any questions that arise regarding collection. Hydro is not currently meeting this requirement, and we’ve made some recommendations to help them improve their customer notification,” said Denham.

The report makes 14 recommendations that will improve BC Hydro’s existing privacy and security practices. BC Hydro has committed to put action plans in place to address these recommendations.  “There is still much work to be done by BC Hydro with respect to smart meters and the smart grid. While I am satisfied with the work that has been done to date, my office will continue to take an active role in monitoring this project to ensure BC Hydro is properly considering privacy and security,” said Denham.

The Commissioner’s Office received complaints and correspondence from more than 600 British Columbians about the smart meter program, which prompted the investigation.

The full report is available at: www.oipc.bc.ca.

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