Assistant European Data Protector Supervisor Giovanni Buttarelli recently issued a statement [PDF file] warning that the widespread rollout of smart meters "enables massive colletion of personal information from European households, thus far unprecedented in the energy sector."

"He pulls up examples of baby monitors and medical devices, which have identifiable patterns of energy consumption and could therefore be used to monitor what people are doing," writes The Register's Bill Ray. "That might sound fanciful, but researchers have already demonstrated that the pattern of energy consumed by a decent flat-screen TV can be used to work out what program is being watched, and Hustinx is probably right that this isn't information most of us would wish to share with our electricity providers."

"This past March the European Union announced a massive rollout of smart meters -- the goal is to have 80 percent of all electricity meters in the EU replaced with smart meters by 2020, which today are found in just 10 percent of households," writes The Verge's Andrew Webster.

"Buttarelli ... said legislation was necessary at EU level to ensure adequate protection of personal data for the rollout of smart metering systems," writes IT PRO's Rene Millman. "'Some of these recommendations can already be implemented via an amendment to the Energy Efficiency Directive, which is currently before the Council and Parliament,' he said. 'These should at least include a mandatory requirement for controllers to conduct a data protection impact assessment and an obligation to notify personal data breaches.'"

"The data watchdog also said home owners should get access to the data stored on them if they chose, and that individual countries should lay down strict guidelines on how long the data could be retained," writes PC Pro's Stewart Mitchell.