Understanding Energy Data Privacy and Behavior  

Authored by Dr. Vedran Lesic for Pecan Street Inc.

This report seeks to gain understanding of individuals’ perceptions of how high-resolution energy data contributes to the formation of their identity and an understanding of household perspectives on the importance of protecting the privacy of energy data.

The report explores the rapidly evolving landscape of how we behave and interact online, particularly related to energy data. Numerous studies have consistently concluded that the overwhelming majority of people are ‘concerned’ or ‘very concerned’ about threats to their privacy while online and are willing to act to protect it. People assess for which purpose data is used and weigh the benefits that providing their data may offer them. However, previous research showed that even though people clearly expressed concerns about their data privacy, there is a simultaneous lack of appropriate behavior: the most popular pin code used is 12343 and many people used one password for multiple accounts (i.e. known as ‘privacy paradox’). In addition, evidence showed that a very small proportion of people properly read or understand terms and conditions and/or privacy policies when buying online. This can make it difficult for them to make informed choices and result in a range of negative outcomes.

The value and risks associated with people’s understanding of high-resolution energy data and privacy still has not been directly addressed. Energy data contains individual people’s private information that is required to be protected under various legal regulations. Previous studies suggested that people who lack understanding of their energy use may be unable to understand their energy data. This could lead to misinterpretation of the potential risks associated with their energy data and the lack of appropriate response within households.

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