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Ontario embedding privacy into Smart Grid

Consumer privacy is a crucial element of the Smart Grid electrical framework being developed in Ontario, said the province's Information and Privacy Commissioner, Dr. Ann Cavoukian.

“I have met with many stakeholders in the Ontario electrical sector and am happy to see a high level of understanding and commitment to privacy. In moving forward with plans in this area, the government must play a leadership role in ensuring that privacy forms a key part of the ongoing Smart Grid implementation in Ontario,” the Commissioner urged in her Annual Report.

 

Since first addressing the issue in August 2009, Commissioner Cavoukian has issued a white paper, published op-ed articles and addressed key decision-makers in the North American Smart Grid community. The infrastructure supporting the Smart Grid will be capable of informing consumers of their hourly and real-time energy use, and in the future, at the individual appliance level. In a future Smart Grid scenario that does not build in privacy, sensitive details of hydro customers' lives could be easily discerned by data automatically fed by appliances and other devices to the companies providing electric power.

 

“The best response is to ensure that privacy is proactively embedded into the design of the Smart Grid, from end to end,” said Cavoukian. “The Smart Grid is presently in its infancy worldwide—I'm confident that many jurisdictions will look to our work being done in Ontario as the privacy standard to be met. We are creating the necessary framework with which to address this issue.”