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By Richard van Staden ten Brink

Dutch Senate blocks mandatory meters

On April 7, the Dutch Senate blocked a Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs proposal that would require Dutch consumers to install so-called “smart meters” in their homes.

Smart meters are digital electricity and gas meters that report real-time data on a household’s energy use to utility providers. Smart meters are supposed to help conserve energy because they enable improved management of energy networks (“smart grids”), and allow consumers to monitor their energy use on the Internet.

However, various senators contended that personal information collected and transmitted by smart meters could be intercepted by hackers and used for unlawful purposes. There was also concern that a requirement to install smart meters would violate Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the article that prohibits state interference with personal and family life that is not “necessary in a democratic society.”

After several days of debate, it became evident that the majority of the Senate was not ready to accept the proposal. The Minister decided to amend the proposal to allow consumers to choose between traditional or “smart” energy meters. However, this amendment will have to be accepted by Parliament before the Senate can consider it.

Richard van Staden ten Brink is advocaat at De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek in Amsterdam. He may be reached at richard@vanstadentenbrink.com.

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