DoE Preps Privacy Standards For Smart Grid - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
Government // Cybersecurity
News
9/29/2014
12:30 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%
RELATED EVENTS
4 Keys to Improving Security Threat Detection
Dec 15, 2016
In this webinar, Ixia will show how to combine the four keys to improving security threat detectio ...Read More>>

DoE Preps Privacy Standards For Smart Grid

Department of Energy has released a set of voluntary privacy recommendations for smart grid owners, operators, and third parties; industry stakeholders have until October 14 to comment on draft.

5 Early Cloud Adopters In Federal Government
5 Early Cloud Adopters In Federal Government
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

The US Department of Energy (DoE) is betting on a voluntary set of standards to guide privacy practices within the smart grid industry.

Earlier this month, the Department publicly released for comment a draft Voluntary Code of Conduct listing a set of privacy recommendations for smart grid owners, operators, and other third parties.

Industry stakeholders have until October 14 to comment on the guidelines and offer their own recommendations for improving them. The DoE will consider the recommended changes, incorporate them as needed, and release a final privacy code of conduct for the smart grid sometime next year.

The draft standard is designed to address the rampant privacy concerns spawned by the proliferation of smart grid technologies in the US in recent years. It touches upon five broad areas of concern, including consumer notice and awareness, customer choice and consent, and complaint resolution and redress.

[Want to know the real risks? Read Shellshock Bug: 6 Key Facts.]

The document reflects what the DoE says is the consensus within the industry that the federal government should facilitate the development of a data privacy framework, but not mandate any rules.

The smart grid is rapidly transforming the manner in which electricity is distributed, delivered, and consumed in the country. Smart grids basically employ two-way digital communication technologies at various points on the grid to manage power transmission and delivery. The goal of such automation is to give utilities better data for managing and controlling all aspects of the grid.

Smart meters have been the most visible aspect of the transformation for most consumers. Smart meters allow utility companies to remotely measure and capture detailed information on household energy consumption habits so they can optimize delivery and pricing models. Many smart meters are wireless-enabled and let utility companies capture usage data in near real-time.

At the end of 2012, some 530 utility companies had installed more than 43 million smart meters in US homes and businesses, according to the US Energy Information Administration. More than 38 million of these were residential installations, while businesses accounted for the rest.

The rapid proliferation of the technology has spawned myriad privacy concerns. Many are afraid that the information gathered by smart meters will give utility companies and third parties with access to the data a highly detailed profile of the activities of individual households. Over time, for instance, smart meters will allow utilities to know what appliances are turned on or turned off, when a computer is being charged, when the dishwasher is being used, when a light has been left on for too long, or when a house is empty.

Privacy advocates fear that the growing adoption of smart appliances, such as smart thermostats and lighting systems, will enable even more granular data collection from inside homes and reveal minute details of the daily routines of a household. At least eight states have implemented laws governing third-party access to such data, according to an August report on the smart grid by the DoE.

The DoE, along with the Federal Smart Grid Task Force, has been working with industry stakeholders over the past two years to address such concerns. They have put in place a multi-stakeholder process to identify potential smart grid privacy issues and develop legally enforceable standards for addressing them.

The draft voluntary code of conduct that is now available for public review and comment is the result of that collaboration. The purpose of the document is to provide privacy guidelines for smart grid owners, operators, and third parties to adopt voluntarily.

The recommendations cover several of the issues that have been raised by privacy advocates and the DoE. For instance, the guidelines list the measures that utility companies should take to properly inform consumers about their privacy rights and about exactly what data is being collected, how it is being collected, why it is being collected, and how it will be used. It also includes provisions on data sharing, consumer consent, opt-in and opt-out procedures, complaint resolution, and consumer access to their own data.

What will you use for your big data platform? A high-scale relational database? NoSQL database? Hadoop? Event-processing technology? One size doesn't fit all. Here's how to decide. Get the new Pick Your Platform For Big Data issue of InformationWeek Tech Digest today. (Free registration required.)

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Stratustician
50%
50%
Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
9/29/2014 | 1:04:53 PM
A step in the right direction
I think it's great that we are finally starting to see standards being discussed when it comes to the transmission and utilization of this type of information.  While yes, currently the information collected by these smart meters may be limited, but as this type of technology grows, and more detailed information is available, there are definitely privacy concerns when it comes to how this information can be accessed and used.  I am curious to see how the first round of feedback impacts these proposed guidelines.
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Top IT Trends to Watch in Financial Services
IT pros at banks, investment houses, insurance companies, and other financial services organizations are focused on a range of issues, from peer-to-peer lending to cybersecurity to performance, agility, and compliance. It all matters.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll