The Age Newspaper, Australia
September 23, 2012
Vince Chadwick, Craig Butt, Henrietta Cook
DETAILED information about electricity customers’ power usage, which gives insights into when a house is occupied, is being shared with third parties including mail houses, debt collectors, data processing analysts and government agencies. Customers with smart meters who sign up for Origin Energy’s online portal must consent to their data being shared with a string of third parties. The data is stored in Australia but shared with US company Tendril, which is described by Origin as a smart energy technology provider.
Australia’s privacy watchdog said the technology could threaten people’s privacy. ”We are starting to see people voicing concern about the level of data that these meters can collect,” federal Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim said.
Smart meters were a common concern among Age readers who responded to our series on privacy.
Mr Pilgrim said electricity companies had a legal responsibility to delete or ”de-identify” personal information that was no longer needed. However, an Origin spokesman said the company kept former customers’ data for retrospective queries and ”tax and compliance purposes”.
The state government aims to install smart meters – which log electricity use every half-hour – in all Victorian homes by the end of next year.
At the beginning of the year Electricity distributors Jemena and United Energy released trial web portals that connect to smart meters and more retailers are expected to follow suit.
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