Consumer Privacy at Center Stage

The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF), the Washington based think tank committed to advancing responsible data practices, today announced a first-of-its-kind smart grid privacy seal program for companies that use consumer energy information. The seal will be powered by TRUSTe, the leading data privacy management company and will be available to companies offering home energy management, remote home control or security, smart thermostats and other services that seek to access consumer energy data.

At Tendril we are very proud to have been a part of the group that helped create this landmark consumer privacy initiative and believe it represents a big step towards alleviating consumer concerns. Our work with utilities and their customers around the world continually points to a shared, global concern over data privacy, and we take consumer privacy very seriously. We recognize that much of the data we collect is personal to our consumers, and we go to great lengths to ensure that we always remain respectful of our consumers’ right to privacy.

We believe that consumers should, at all times, be empowered to make meaningful decisions about their information: whether or not it is collected, how it is used, and who may have access to it. This basic belief — that consumers are the ultimate arbiters of their personal information — is the guiding theme for our privacy program and our chief privacy platform in policy-making domains. This belief has led us to develop the following principles with which we strive to abide:

Transparency. We always strive to be transparent about the information we collect, the reason we collect it, and how we plan to use it. We believe that consumers can only make meaningful decisions about their personal information if they are provided with clear and accurate information about our data use practices. We have made a conscious effort to make our privacy practices transparent and easy to understand, and we encourage our consumers to contact us if there are ever any questions or concerns about the information we collect or how we use it. We also ensure that we have mechanisms in place that allow consumers to access and, if necessary, correct the personal information that we store about them.

Choice. We strive to provide consumers with the ability to make meaningful choices about how their data is used. The consumer ultimately controls whether or not we collect their personal information, how we will use it, and whether or not we disclose it on their behalf. We never use personal information for any purpose other than the one for which it was collected without the express and knowing consent of the consumer. We offer privacy profile settings within our product that enables further clarification of the consumer’s choices about how their personal information is shared.

Compliance. We strive to comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulations concerning privacy. Moreover, we have participated in the creation of specific Smart Grid privacy guidelines that are aimed at protecting consumer privacy to an even greater extent than existing privacy regimes (NAESB: Third Party Access to Smart Meter-based Information). We have thoroughly participated in the leading privacy and data access proceedings in the country, including in California, Ohio and Colorado. In essence, compliance with existing privacy rules serves only as the baseline for our privacy program—we strive to go beyond compliance.

Security. We take great care to safeguard the personal information that we collect. We’ve implemented administrative, technical, and physical controls that are designed to limited access to personal information to Tendril personnel that require it. We require personnel to abide by our stringent privacy policy and our rigorous information security policy. We also regularly train personnel concerning the proper treatment of personal information and conduct regular audits to ensure compliance with all of our policies and procedures. We require all third party vendors who come in contact with personally identifying information to adhere to the same strict policies.

Standard Practice. The personally identifying protection laws, policies, and practices to which we adhere are either consistent with or go beyond the commonly accepted privacy practices utilized for years, and in some cases decades, by the financial services, credit card, telecommunications, cellular, television, residential broadband, social network and other modern digital conveniences. These are all sacred trusts and like each of these industries, we recognize that commercial and consumer success can only come from the active protection of personally identifying information.

To learn more about the smart grid privacy program, visit www.smartgridprivacy.org

By Dan Fredrickson, Tendril Associate General Counsel