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New intelligent technologies are providing increasing amounts of data that allow companies to better serve their customers—whether through more efficient operations or new, innovative products and services—but these devices also are increasing concerns over consumer data privacy.

In late 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Electricity heeded the call from the White House to develop an industry voluntary code of conduct to protect consumer data by launching a multi-stakeholder initiative to develop a privacy code that would provide utilities and third parties not only a framework for handling and protecting customer energy usage data, but also a visible method for communicating their commitment to their customers. The resulting voluntary code of conduct, which was subsequently branded as DataGuard, provides a framework for establishing practices that protect the access, use, and sharing of customer data. Here are 6 facts about DataGuard:

  1. DataGuard is a voluntary program.
  2. DataGuard is for any company handling energy use data.
  3. Industry Stakeholders developed the concepts and principles.
  4. Companies develop their own policies and processes.
  5. DataGuard is self-certified.
  6. DataGuard is specific to customer energy usage data.

One of the goals of the DataGuard Energy Data Privacy Program is to raise awareness of the need to protect customer energy usage data. Over the last 8 years, Office of Electricity has actively engaged the industry in discussions on energy data privacy and encouraged companies to adopt the principles of DataGuard. In turn, industry and regulators have used DataGuard to launch their enquiries and formulate their own policies and programs.

Program Principles

The concepts and principles specified in the DataGuard Energy Data Privacy Program Voluntary Code of Conduct allows companies flexibility in the implementation of their data protection practices by detailing the questions to be asked and areas to be addressed without specifying the details so that each adopting company can determine how they will implement the program based on their own company structure and processes.

Key tenets of the DataGuard Energy Data Privacy Program include:

  • Consumer Notice and Awareness: Customers should be given prior notice about privacy-related policies and practices.
  • Customer Choice and Consent: Customers should have a degree of control over access to their own customer data.
  • Customer Data Access and Participation: Customers should have access to their own customer data and should have the ability to participate in its maintenance.
  • Integrity and Security: Customer data should be as accurate as reasonably possible and secured against unauthorized access.
  • Self-Enforcement Management and Redress: Enforcement mechanisms should be in place to ensure compliance with the foregoing principles.

Read DataGuard's Voluntary Code of Conduct (VCC) Final Concepts and Principles to see more specifics.

Program Resources

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The Department of Energy's Office of Electricity (OE) recognizes that our nation's sustained economic prosperity, quality of life, and global competitiveness depends on an abundance of secure, reliable, and affordable energy resources. OE leads the Department of Energy's efforts to ensure a resilient, and flexible electricity system in the United States. Learn more about OE >>

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