UK citizens will have a choice about how their smart metering data is shared with third parties, the government has announced.
Energy consumers will be able to choose the extent to which their data is shared with energy companies, apart from for billing and regulatory purposes, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said in a statement on Friday.
"In less than three years energy suppliers will begin the mass rollout of smart meters across the country and I am determined that consumers are at the heart of this ambitious programme," energy and climate change minister Charles Hendry said in the statement. "That is why today we are proposing tough guidelines on installation, which will minimise inconvenience and help people to make the most of their smart meters to save energy and save money.
"I want to be absolutely clear to consumers that they will be in control of their energy consumption data. So apart from where it is required for billing or other regulated purposes, it will be for consumers to decide who can access their data."
In addition, further sales during smart meter installation will be banned, said DECC.
The government has a target of energy companies providing 30 million homes and small businesses with smart meters by 2019, in an effort to end estimated billing, and provide consumers with accurate data about their energy consumption.
I want to be absolutely clear to consumers that they will be in control of their energy consumption data.– Charles Hendry, climate change minister
Smart meter data and communications will be overseen by a separate company to be set up by DECC called the DCC (Data and Communications Company).
Cambridge University security expert professor Ross Anderson told ZDNet UK on Tuesday that the DCC would be running a centralised database which would be an attractive proposition to energy companies, marketers and other third parties.
"[DECC] is trying to say that [DCC] can build a massive centralised database, and won't give any data to retailers apart from billing," said Anderson. "This is a public sector IT disaster in the making."
Anderson said that the only way to guarantee that energy consumption data did not find its way to third parties was to not collect the data in the first place.