The state of California has approved new rules to protect the data stored on so-called “smart meters,” in an effort to protect customer consumption data as household utilities are wired and connected to an IP-enabled “smart grid.”
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which regulates utilities in California, approved the rules, which protect the privacy and security of customer use data generated by smart meters. Electric and gas companies are prohibited from sharing or disclosing customer consumption data to a third party, or for providing incentives to customers to get them to share that data, according to a published report.
Utilities will have to make pricing, use and cost data available to customers online and update it on a daily basis, so customers can see how much they are paying for energy use. However, companies will be prohibited from selling or giving that data to third parties, CPUC ruled.
The rules are among the first in the U.S. governing the security and privacy issues raised by smart grid technology, which is being rapidly adopted across the country. They will apply to all utility providers in the state, as well as third parties that are under contract with the utilities.
The security of smart grid technology has been shown to be wanting, Researchers at Syracuse University found smart meters were vulnerable to remote hacking and tampering that could be used to manipulate the energy grid or, at the least, alter customers’ bills and energy consumption. In January, the U.S. Government watchdog agency, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) warned that the rapid adoption of smart gird infrastructure in the U.S. wasn’t taking cyber security or physical security concerns into account enough.