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    Globe and Mail (Canada): Utilities work to prevent privacy backlash over smart grid

    The Globe and Mail in Canada has a report on privacy questions with “smart grid” technology, which we’ve discussed before. “Smart grids” are the case where utilities would be able to collect granular data about consumers’ energy consumption — down to the daily electricity use by the fridge in your kitchen or the TV in your bedroom.

    Canadian utilities are looking to prevent a consumer backlash over privacy concerns as they roll out new smart-grid technology that will give companies unprecedented access to information about customers’ habits and behaviour.

    Working with Ontario’s Privacy Commission, Toronto-based Hydro One Inc. has teamed with major suppliers such General Electric Co. and IBM on a pilot project that ensures privacy protection in a new digitized grid system designed to allow more interaction between companies and customers. […]

    The smart-grid concept extends broadly – from the technology that lets utilities better manage intermittent renewable power, to household meters that communicate with distribution companies every 15 minutes to record power usage and furnaces and appliances that can be programmed remotely.

    But for the new system to work, consumers have to trust that companies will safeguard their personal household information – such as what kind of high-tech equipment they own, or which hours of the day the furnace is turned down (indicating no one is home).

    Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian said the new technology will result in a massive transfer of personal information to utilities and energy-service providers who will develop applications for the new systems.

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