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Consumers need smart meter reassurance

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/05/2017

The collection of personal information from electricity smart meters has been raised as an issue of concern by the privacy watchdog.

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards says more should be done to reassure consumers that the information being collected by the meters - present in about 70 per cent of New Zealand homes - is not infringing peoples' rights.

Mr Edwards said smart meter information, which would identify when a house is occupied, is commonly in the electricity sector's Use of System agreements.

He recommended that electricity retailers and distributors review their privacy statements and update them to include assurances about the collection of data and ensure that personal information is not collected unnecessarily or held for longer than needed.

"In order for distributors to carry out their role efficiently and cost effectively, they require a certain level of detail about the network," Mr Edwards said.

"However, based on my investigations, it does not appear that they require household level data for network planning.

"Loss of trust from deliberate or accidental disclosure is likely to impact strongly on retailers."

It is expected that 90 per cent of New Zealand households will have smart meters within two years.

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