Smart time of use qualitative research: Joint privacy notice

Publication date
12th March 2020
Information types
Policy areas

The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) regularly undertakes research to better understand the needs and experiences of energy consumers. Ofgem has commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC Research), to conduct interviews on our behalf about consumers’ views on and/or experiences of “time-of-use” tariffs offered by suppliers. If you are currently on a time-of-use tariff or are with a supplier who offers one, PwC Research may contact you during March 2020 to ask if you want to assist us with this research by taking part in interviews with PwC Research and if we can use your personal data for that purpose.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) gives individuals the right to be informed about the collection and use of their personal data. That is what this privacy notice is for; in this privacy notice, we explain the research project and how your personal data might be used if you choose to take part.

What is personal data?

Personal data is information that relates to an identified or identifiable individual - for example, your name and contact details.

Who is Ofgem?

Ofgem is the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets. We are a non-ministerial government department and an independent National Regulatory Authority.

Our aim is to make a positive difference for energy consumers, and our principal duty when carrying out our functions is to protect the interests of existing and future electricity and gas consumers. This informs our whole approach to regulation in Great Britain and the way that we work with stakeholders. It obliges us to evaluate almost any situation or proposed change through the lens of energy consumers.

You can find more information on our role and what we do on our ‘about us’ page.

Who is PwC Research?

PwC Research is a specialist research company which sources participants and conducts research interviews across the UK. Ofgem have appointed PwC Research to recruit and interview participants on our behalf in this research project. You can find out more about PwC Research here.

Why have I been selected for this research?

Our purpose for processing your personal data in this research project is as follows. We want to explore customer attitudes and experiences with smart time-of-use tariffs services. These are energy tariffs which operate using a smart meter and differ in price per unit depending on the time energy is used.

You have been selected for this research for one of two reasons. In order to carry out this research, Ofgem has required energy suppliers to provide us with contact details of their time-of-use tariff customers as well as other customers who are not on these tariffs. You have either been identified by your energy supplier as currently being on such a tariff or have been included in the list of customers who are not currently on such a tariff.

If PwC Research contacts you on our behalf, it is because we would like to hear more about your views on and/or experience with these tariffs. You can of course choose  not to take part in the research project; if so, no more of your personal data will be processed by us or by PwC Research in this research project. If you do participate, you will help us in understanding consumers’ views on time of use tariffs and/or the experience of customers on time-of-use tariffs.

Why are Ofgem and PwC Research processing my personal data in this project?

If you agree to participate in this research project, we will be processing your personal data in order to conduct research into consumer’s viewpoints on time of use tariffs, which may ultimately benefit consumers. The types of personal data which we will or may process in this research project are set out below. We must always ensure that our processing of personal data is lawful, fair and transparent, and complies with all the other principles and requirements of the GDPR. To ensure that our processing of personal data in this research project is lawful, we need to identify a “lawful basis” for processing under Article 6 of the GDPR.

Ofgem are processing personal data in this research project line with the ‘public task’ lawful basis for processing (Article 6(1)(e) of the GDPR).  This is where processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority. In this research project, Ofgem is processing personal data in order to perform its public functions and powers set out under various laws. For example, this research project is partly being carried out on the basis of our legal powers in the Gas Act 1986 and the Electricity Act 1989 which relate to policy development regarding domestic energy consumers, and which may result in us making proposals to modify the licence conditions which energy suppliers must abide by.

PwC Research will be conducting the research interviews on our behalf and will only do so with your explicit and informed consent. The legal basis for processing your information from the interviews is consent (Article 6(1)(a) of the GDPR). PwC Research will only collect, store and transfer (to Ofgem only) your personal data with your consent. More information about consent is provided below.

How will PwC Research contact me?

PwC Research will initially contact you by email. If you consent to be interviewed, PwC Research will conduct an interview either by telephone or face-to-face.

What information will I be given when I am first contacted?

When you are contacted by PwC Research, they will explain to you:

  • why you are being contacted and the purpose of our time-of-use tariff research
  • if you agree to participate in the research interviews, how your personal information will be  used and your rights in respect of the use of that information
  • who the relevant Ofgem and PwC Research points of contact are for this project (see below) if you have any questions at any point
  • that it is your choice whether or not to take part in the research interviews and, if you do take part, how you may withdraw your consent at any time
  • what your participation in the research would involve.

If I take part, what could I be asked to do?

If you agree to take part in the research, PwC Research will ask you a few questions to check that you are eligible to take part and arrange a time for a telephone or face-to-face interview that suits you. During the interview, PwC Research will ask you questions to help us understand your attitude towards time of use tariffs and/or experience on a time-of-use tariff with your supplier. As part of this process, they may ask questions about how you use energy and/or engage with your smart time of use tariff. In addition, they may ask for your views on wider energy issues.

Use of your personal information and data

Who will receive my personal data?

Only Ofgem and PwC Research. The types of personal data which Ofgem and PwC Research will process in this project are:

  • your contact details – so that PwC Research can contact you about the research project
  • your energy tariff information
  • what you tell PwC Research in the research interviews about your energy use

No other party will receive your personal data. All published results from the research will be anonymised.

How long will my personal information be held?

If you do not agree to take part in the research interviews, your contact details will be deleted at project completion by PwC Research. Ofgem will delete your contact details after transferring the details to PwC Research.

If you agree to take part in the research interviews, your contact details will be stored securely by PwC Research for 12 months after the project completion date. This is in case PwC Research need to contact you following the interview for any follow-up questions (with your consent). After that period PwC Research will delete your contact details.

If you agree to take part in the research interviews, the information you provide at interview will be analysed and retained by PwC Research for a period of 12 months following project completion (ie 12 months after the analysis is conducted in this project). PwC Research will provide Ofgem with an anonymised report of the findings from the research. Ofgem will publish this anonymised report on our website.

Video recording

If you agree to take part in a face-to-face research interview, PwC Research may ask to record a video summary after your interview. PwC Research will ask a few participants to record vox-pop style videos on topics that have arisen during the interview. This would only be done with your explicit consent, and with your right to withdraw that consent at any point being fully explained to you by PwC Research before any recording began.

You can still take part in the research even if you do not wish to be videoed. PwC Research will ask for separate consent for the interview and the video data. You can consent to interview and not consent to being videoed if you wish.

As with the other personal data you provide at interview, the video footage will be retained by PwC Research for a period of 12 months after project completion. PwC Research will create a summary video and send this to Ofgem. Ofgem will not publish the summary video and it will be used to highlight consumers’ viewpoints with internal stakeholders only. It will not be shared publicly. Ofgem will retain the video summary for 12 months after the project completion date.

Under the GDPR certain personal data is treated as being more sensitive. This includes:

  • personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin
  • personal data revealing political opinions
  • personal data concerning health.

None of the questions you will be asked in the research interviews will require you to disclose any such sensitive data because we do not need it - it is not necessary or relevant to this research project. However, we acknowledge that this type of data might nonetheless be volunteered by a participant in the research interviews, or be able to be inferred by Ofgem or PwC Research. For example, if asked about wider energy issues in Great Britain, a participant might disclose a political opinion. We mention this just because processing by PwC Research or Ofgem of sensitive data requires your explicit consent. This will be explained to you before any research interview.

Any special category data will be stored on PwC Research's secure systems and password protected to ensure restricted access.  On completion of the research, all personal data is pseudonomised e.g. unique identifying information is removed, password protected and stored separately.  At the beginning of the research process, you will be asked to provide clear and explicit consent that they are happy for PwC Research to collect, process and store your personal data, including any special category data.  Your consent will be required in order to proceed.  PwC Research will also provide you with a contact name and telephone number of someone who can answer any queries on the research, as well as the Market Research Society's (MRS) contact details, as PwC Research abides by the MRS's code of conduct.

Will my responses to the research be confidential?

The information gathered during the interviews will remain completely confidential. The name of any individual taking part in the research interviews (or appearing in any video recording of an interview) will not be disclosed to Ofgem. Your interview responses will be anonymised, analysed and held securely by PwC Research, on a cloud based file system, for the periods of time set out above. An anonymised report of findings from this research project, which will not include any video data, may be published on the Ofgem website in the future.

Who controls my personal information in the research project?

Ofgem is the “data controller” of your personal data when collecting your contact details and energy tariff information from your supplier. Ofgem collects this information in the exercise of its public functions and powers, using the legal basis of public task, outlined in Article 6(1) (e) of GDPR (see above).

If you agree to take part in the research interviews, both Ofgem and PwC Research will be joint “data controllers” in relation to any personal data processed in the course of the interviews, or when analysing the results of the interviews. This is because PwC Research is conducting the interviews on our behalf. Ofgem and PwC Research have agreed a project-specific joint controller agreement, as required under the GDPR. The joint controller agreement sets out:

  • that Ofgem and PwC Research are required to keep your personal information secure and accurate
  • that Ofgem and PwC Research must comply with data protection law in all stages of the research project
  • procedures for obtaining the consent of research interview participants
  • that neither Ofgem and PwC Research will process or retain personal data in this research project for longer than necessary, and shall delete the personal data in accordance with the retention periods set out above
  • that PwC Research’s representative, Katie Wise (Katie.x.wise@pwcresearch.com) shall be the main contact point for any participant who wishes to exercise their data protection rights in relation to this project, but that participants may also contact Ofgem’s representative, Moira Nicolson (moira.nicolson@ofgem.gov.uk) to do so.

What rights do I have in respect of my personal information?

Under data protection law, you have the right to:

  • request access to the information which Ofgem and / or PwC Research  holds about you;
  • request amendment or destruction of your information;
  • request Ofgem and / or PwC Research to restrict the processing of your information;
  • object to Ofgem and / or PwC Research’s processing of your information
  • withdraw your consent to Ofgem and / or PwC Research’s processing of your information; or
  • request Ofgem and / or PwC Research to  transfer your information to another organisation.

In order to exercise any of these rights, please contact PwC Research or Ofgem. Ofgem’s representative on this research project is Moira Nicolson, who can be contacted at moira.nicolson@ofgem.gov.uk . PwC Research’s representative on this research project is Katie Wise (Katie.x.wise@pwc.com). If you have further questions about this research project, you can contact us at consumeraffairs@ofgem.gov.uk .

At any time you can also raise any questions or concerns you may have in respect of your personal data with:

More information on our general data and information policies can be found on our respective websites:

You also have the right to make a complaint at any time to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK supervisory authority for data protection issues (www.ico.org.uk). Your rights in relation to your personal information are explained in more detail on the ‘Individual Rights’ section of the ICO website.