Green Party Spokesperson for Justice and TD for Dublin South-Central, Deputy Patrick Costello, has written to both the Data Protection Commission (DPC) and the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action asking them to investigate concerns that there is no legal basis for the ESB’s collection and storage of electricity smart meter data. He was speaking following the news that homes that have had their electricity meters replaced with smart meters will have their electricity usage automatically logged and transmitted daily as opposed to every few months. The data will then be stored for seven years.
Speaking on the matter, he said: “To date, around 250,000 homes have had their electricity meters replaced with smart meters and 2.4 million homes will have them by 2024. The Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has asked the ESB to install them as part of a nationwide programme, however I have serious reservations that they have not adequately considered the data protection issues involved.
“Whilst smart meters undoubtedly can be hugely beneficial for consumers, the environment, and indeed the economy, their benefits will be completely undermined if there are data protection issues involved. At present, your phone data is stored for two years and your internet usage is stored for one year, which has no legal basis as is. It is incredibly worrying that the ESB plan to collect and store consumer’s electricity usage data for seven years without providing any explanation as to why such widespread data processing is necessary.
“I have written to both the DPC and the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action asking them to investigate these concerns over data collection and storage and whether there is any legal basis. This is personal data that can tell when you got up in the morning, when you were home, when you went to bed and so on. Ultimately the fear is that the data will be informally dipped into for reasons that it was never intended to be used. It is a very slippery slope and one which we need urgent answers to,” concluded Deputy Costello.