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Smart Metering and Privacy in Europe: Lessons from the Dutch Case

Abstract

The future of energy supply lies in smart grids, which enable energy supply to and from consumers. These two-way energy networks require smart energy metering systems. The vision of smart grids will require one or more decades yet to be fully realised, but since a roll-out of smart meters is a lengthy process, countries are already starting to implement smart metering legislation, following the European legal framework on energy efficiency. Rolling out smart meters, however, requires smart legislation. The Dutch example, where the Senate blocked two smart metering bills in 2009, demonstrates that introducing smart meters can be significantly delayed if the underlying legislation is flawed. In particular, the Dutch case shows that privacy is a crucial element in smart metering legislation. Energy consumption reveals details of personal life, in the most privacy-sensitive place – the home, and therefore smart metering has to strike a careful balance between detailed energy metering and privacy protection.

In this paper, we present the recent developments in smart metering and describe the Dutch case in detail. From this, we draw key lessons for countries that want to introduce smart metering. In terms of substance, the level of detail of smart meter readings and the mandatory or voluntary character of smart meters are crucial issues to take into account. Legislators must make a trade-off between the ‘smartness’ of the meter versus a comprehensive, mandatory roll-out. In terms of procedure, a privacy impact assessment is vital, and pitfalls of function creep should be avoided by resisting the temptation of making a meter ‘too smart’ all at once. From the outset, privacy and data protection law must be taken into account as an important requirement for the design of smart metering systems.

Keywords

  • Personal Data
  • Data Protection
  • Smart Grid
  • Grid Operator
  • Energy Supplier

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Directive 2009/72/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity and repealing Directive 2003/54/EC, OJ 14.08.2009, L211/55. Directive 2009/73/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas and repealing Directive 2003/55/EC, OJ 14.08.2009, L211/94.

  2. 2.

    Directive 2009/72/EC, Annex I, art. 2.

  3. 3.

    Rainer Knyrim and Gerald Trieb, “Smart metering under EU Data Protection Law”, International Data Privacy Law, March 1, 2011, p. 121.

  4. 4.

    Task Force Smart Grids, Expert Group 1 (EG1), Functionalities of smart grids and smart meters, December 2010, p. 4. http://ec.europa.eu/energy/gas_electricity/smartgrids/doc/expert_group1.pdf.

  5. 5.

    Knyrim and Trieb, p. 127.

  6. 6.

    Task Force Smart Grids, Expert Group 1 (EG1), p. 6.

  7. 7.

    Idem, p. 16.

  8. 8.

    Idem.

  9. 9.

    Standardization mandates can be retrieved from: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/standards_policy/mandates/database/

    The three standardization Mandates relevant in view of the Smart Grids Task Force are Mandate M/490 for Smart Grids (issued 1 March 2011), Mandate M/468 for electric vehicles (issued 4 June 2010) and Mandate M/441 for smart meters (issued 12 March 2009), http://ec.europa.eu/energy/gas_electricity/smartgrids/taskforce_en.htm.

  10. 10.

    Task Force Smart Grids, Expert Group 1 (EG1), p. 5.

  11. 11.

    Standardisation mandate to CEN, CENELEC and ETSI in the field of measuring instruments for the development of an open architecture for utility meters involving communication protocols enabling interoperability, p. 1, http://ec.europa.eu/energy/gas_electricity/smartgrids/doc/2009_03_12_mandate_m441_en.pdf.

  12. 12.

    Directive 2006/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of the European Union of 5 April 2006 on energy end-use efficiency and energy services and repealing Council Directive 93/76/EEC, OJ 27.04.2006, L114/64. The latest date for implementation was 17 May 2008.

  13. 13.

    Art. 3(11) Directive 2009/72/EC; similarly, art. 3(8) Directive 2009/73/EC.

  14. 14.

    Directive 2009/72/EC, Annex I, art. 2.

  15. 15.

    COM (2010) 245 final/2, 26.8.2010.

  16. 16.

    Proposal for a Directive on energy efficiency and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC, COM(2011)370, 22.06.2011, http://ec.europa.eu/energy/efficiency/eed/eed_en.htm.

    For an elaborate description see: Steering through the maze #5. Your eceee guide to following the approval process of the proposed Energy Efficiency Directive, http://www.eceee.org/EED.

  17. 17.

    Stephan Renner et al., European Smart Metering Landscape Report SmartRegions Deliverable 2.1., 2009, p. 1, http://www.smartregions.net.

  18. 18.

    Idem.

  19. 19.

    See for a graph of these categories: http://www.smartregions.net/default.asp?SivuID=26927.

  20. 20.

    Cf. Paul De Hert and Serge Gutwirth, “Data Protection in the Case Law of Strasbourg and Luxembourg: Constitutionalization in Action”, In Reinventing Data Protection?, ed. Serge Gutwirth et al., (Berlin: Springer, 2009), p. 3–45.

  21. 21.

    The Lisbon Treaty makes the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights a binding and legally enforceable part of EU law, see http://europa.eu/lisbon_treaty/glance/index_en.htm.

    For a downloadable copy of the Charter see: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/site/en/oj/2007/c_303/c_30320071214en00010016.pdf.

  22. 22.

    See art. 3: ‘(1) This Directive shall apply to the processing of personal data wholly or partly by automatic means, and to the processing otherwise than by automatic means of personal data which form part of a filing system or are intended to form part of a filing system. (2) This Directive shall not apply to the processing of personal data: in the course of an activity which falls outside the scope of Community law, such as those provided for by Titles V and VI of the Treaty on European Union and in any case to processing operations concerning public security, defence, State security (including the economic well-being of the State when the processing operation relates to State security matters) and the activities of the State in areas of criminal law; [or] by a natural person in the course of a purely personal or household activity.’

  23. 23.

    The Directive obliges all Member States to establish a supervisory authority, also known as Data Protection Authority.

  24. 24.

    Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector (Directive on privacy and electronic communications), OJ L 201, 31.7.2002, p. 37–47. Directive 2006/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks and amending Directive 2002/58/EC, OJ L 105, 13.4.2006, p. 54–63.

  25. 25.

    The definition of an electronic communications service is: ‘a service normally provided for remuneration which consists wholly or mainly in the conveyance of signals on electronic communications networks, including telecommunications services and transmission services in networks used for broadcasting, but exclude services providing, or exercising editorial control over, content transmitted using electronic communications networks and services; it does not include information society services, as defined in Article 1 of Directive 98/34/EC, which do not consist wholly or mainly in the conveyance of signals on electronic communications networks’ (art. 2(c) Directive 2002/21/EC, OJ L108/33, 24.4.2002).

  26. 26.

    Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (General Data Protection Regulation), Brussels, 25.1.2012 COM (2012) 11 final 2012/0011 (COD). Available from: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/document/review2012/com_2012_11_en.pdf.

  27. 27.

    Conducting a PIA is also a core recommendation in the NIST Guidelines for Smart Grid Cyber Security: Vol. 2, Privacy and the Smart Grid, NISTIR 7628, August 2010. Available from: http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistir/ir7628/nistir-7628_vol2.pdf.

  28. 28.

    See also Paul de Hert and Dariusz Kloza, “The challenges to privacy and data protection posed by smart grids”, In Europäische Projektkultur als Beitrag zur Rationalisierung des Rechts, ed. E. Schweighofer and F. Kummer (Wien, 2011), p. 194.

  29. 29.

    Parliamentary Documents Second Chamber 2005/06, 28 982, No. 51.

  30. 30.

    Directive 2006/32/EC. See supra s. 2.1. The Directive had to be implemented by 17 May 2008.

  31. 31.

    Parliamentary Documents Second Chamber 2007/08, 31 320, No. 2.

  32. 32.

    Parliamentary Documents Second Chamber 2007/08, 31 374, No. 2.

  33. 33.

    Parliamentary Documents Second Chamber 2007/08, 31 374, No. 3, p. 14.

  34. 34.

    In Dutch: College Bescherming Persoonsgegevens (CBP), www.cbpweb.nl. English website: http://www.dutchdpa.nl/Pages/home.aspx.

  35. 35.

    Wetgevingsadvies, 17 juni 2008, z2008-00769, available from: www.cbpweb.nl

  36. 36.

    Parliamentary Proceedings Second Chamber 3 July 2008, p. 105–7642.

  37. 37.

    Colette Cuijpers and Bert-Jaap Koops, Het wetsvoorstel ‘slimme meters’: een privacytoets op basis van art. 8 EVRM [The ‘smart meters’ bill: a privacy test based on article 8 ECHR], Study commissioned by the Dutch Consumers’ Association, October 2008. The Dutch version is available from: http://www.consumentenbond.nl/morello-bestanden/209547/onderzoek_UvT_slimme_energi1.pdf. An English version can be obtained from the authors.

  38. 38.

    See Parliamentary Proceedings First Chamber, 24 March 2009, 26–1316/1331, 26–1343/1359, and 26–1381/1389; 7 April 2009, 28–1413/1427.

  39. 39.

    Parliamentary Documents Second Chamber 2009/10, 32 373, No. 2, and 32 374, No. 2.

  40. 40.

    Parliamentary Proceedings Second Chamber, 9 November 2010, 19–18; First Chamber, 22 February 2011, 19-2-2.

  41. 41.

    Parliamentary Documents Second Chamber 2009–2010, 32 374, No. 3, p. 8–9.

  42. 42.

    Colette Cuijpers, “Slim kiezen bij slimme meters”, Privacy & Informatie, June 2011, p. 134.

  43. 43.

    These tasks are listed in article 16 of the Elektriciteitswet (Electricity Act) and article 10 of the Gaswet (Gas Act).

  44. 44.

    Parliamentary Documents Second Chamber 2009–2010, 32 374, No. 3, p. 8–9.

  45. 45.

    Parliamentary Documents First Chamber 2010–2011, 32 373, C. Note that some criticism has been voiced against the assumptions of a KEMA report that serves as a basis for the cost/benefit assessment, debating to what extent benefits of energy savings or supplier switching can be uniquely attributed to smart metering. See Sjak Lomme (2010), ‘Commentaar’, http://www.energeia.nl/column.php?ID=108.

  46. 46.

    Andrés Molina-Markham et al., “Private Memoirs of a Smart Meter”, BuildSys

    November 2, Zurich, Switzerland 2010: 1, http://www.cs.umass.edu/∼kevinfu/papers/molina-markham-buildsys10.pdf., p. 1.

  47. 47.

    Quinn, Elias Leake, Smart Metering and Privacy: Existing Laws and Competing Policies (May 9, 2009). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1462285orhttp://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1462285.p.11

  48. 48.

    U. Greveler, B. Justus, and D. Löhr, “Hintergrund und experimentelle Ergebnisse zum Thema “Smart Meter und Datenschutz””, Arbeitspapier1 – Technischer Report, Status: ENTWURF, Version 0.6., 2011, p. 3.

    http://www.its.fh-muenster.de/greveler/pubs/smartmeter_sep11_v06.pdf.

  49. 49.

    Idem.

  50. 50.

    Quinn 2009, p. 18.

  51. 51.

    M. Jawurek and M. Johns, “Security Challenges of a Changing Energy Landscape”, In ISSE 2010 Securing Electronic Business Processes: Highlights of the Information Security Solutions Europe 2010 Convention, ed. N. Pohlmann, H. Reimer and W. Schneider, (Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien 2011), p. 255.

  52. 52.

    Parliamentary Proceedings 24 March 2009, 26–1385/1386.

  53. 53.

    COM(2011)370, http://ec.europa.eu/energy/efficiency/eed/eed_en.htm.

  54. 54.

    Knyrim and Trieb, p. 122.

  55. 55.

    Art. 7(b) refers to execution of a contract and 7(f) to legitimate interests of the data processor that outweigh the privacy interest of data subjects [authors’ footnote].

  56. 56.

    Knyrim and Trieb, p. 128.

  57. 57.

    ECtHR 24 November 1986, Gillow v The United Kingdom, App.no. 9063/80, §55.

  58. 58.

    See Parliamentary Proceedings First Chamber, 24 March 2009, 26–1329, 26-1349f; 7 April 2009, 28–1416.

  59. 59.

    In Italy, the introduction of smart metering by ENEL was strongly driven by the desire to combat fraud. See in this respect: Rob van Gerwen, Saskia Jaarsma and Rob Wilhite, Smart Metering, KEMA, The Netherlands, July 2006. Available from: http://www.idc-online.com/technical_references/pdfs/electrical_engineering/Smart_Metering.pdf.

  60. 60.

    Cf. Article 29 Working Party, “Opinion 12/2011 on smart metering”, WP 183, April 4, 2011, p. 21.

  61. 61.

    For an overview see: Smart Meters Co-ordination Group (SMCG), Standardization mandate to CEN, CENELEC and ETSI in the field of measuring instruments for the develop-ment of an open architecture for utility meters involving communication protocols enabling Interoperability M/441, FINAL REPORT 2009, http://www.piio.pl/dok/SMCG_Sec0013_DC.pdf.

  62. 62.

    The addition of extra functionalities over and above the requirements of the European Directives was also an issue for the First Chamber in questioning the acceptability of the smart metering bills. See, e.g. Parliamentary Proceedings First Chamber, 24 March 2009, 26–1325.

  63. 63.

    Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor on Promoting Trust in the Information Society by Fostering Data Protection and Privacy, Brussels 2010, p. 2, available from: http://www.edps.europa.eu/EDPSWEB/webdav/site/mySite/shared/Documents/Consultation/Opinions/2010/10-03-19_Trust_Information_Society_EN.pdf.

  64. 64.

    See also Knyrim and Trieb, 2011.

  65. 65.

    Art. 23 and 33 of the Proposed General Data Protection Regulation, COM(2012) 11 final 2012/0011 (COD).

  66. 66.

    Greveler, Justus, and Löhr, p. 1 and 3.

  67. 67.

    Greveler, Justus, and Löhr, p. 4. http://www.its.fh-muenster.de/greveler/pubs/smartmeter_sep11_v06.pdf.

  68. 68.

    B.J. Koops and M.M. Prinsen, “Houses of Glass, Transparent Bodies: How New Technologies Affect Inviolability of the Home and Bodily Integrity in the Dutch Constitution”, Information & Communications Technology Law, 16 (3) 2007, p. 177–190.

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Cuijpers, C., Koops, BJ. (2013). Smart Metering and Privacy in Europe: Lessons from the Dutch Case. In: Gutwirth, S., Leenes, R., de Hert, P., Poullet, Y. (eds) European Data Protection: Coming of Age. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-5170-5_12

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