How Bulb uses and protects your data

 
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By Alex Meagher, Risk and Regulation Manager

This week, the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force. The new rules better protect the personal data that businesses hold, as well as empower consumers to know what is happening with their data. We’re all for this at Bulb. After all, we started Bulb to make energy simpler. Being open and transparent about how we collect our members’ personal data, and what we use it for, is an important part of that. In this post, we’ll take a look at our updated Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy, explaining how we collect, use and share data at Bulb. From here, we’ll continue designing for trust and will explore what’s next.

 

Our updated Privacy Policy

To be ready for these new regulations, we reviewed our Privacy Policy and our Cookie Policy, working out how to make them easier for our members to understand. In our updated policies, members can find information on how we collect and use data and when we share it with others. There is also clear information on the rights of our members relating to this data. This includes how members can access or delete the data we hold, or ask us to use it differently.

 

How we use data at Bulb

We hope Bulb’s Privacy Policy is clear for our members. Here, we’d like to explain the key uses of data at Bulb, including how we collect that data, how we use it and why we share it with others (when we do). Personal data means any information which can be used to identify a specific person. It essentially refers to things like your name, address, phone number and IP address.

 

1) Using data to provide energy

Most of the data we collect and hold about our members is so we can provide energy to them. Our members supply this information to us when they sign up and when we ask for it.

For example, we need to know the address details of our members so we can provide their home with energy. We also need to know their contact details and meter readings so we can send accurate bills.

We do need to share this information with other select organisations. This includes previous suppliers of our members, contractors we work with to deliver energy services (like our engineering and meter reading partners) and the independent industry bodies that maintain the national energy databases.

 

2) Using data to improve Bulb's services and tools

We also collect data on how our members communicate with Bulb and use our digital tools, including our website and App. This information is collected automatically each time members contact us or use our website.

For example, we keep a record of phone calls and email conversations that we have with members about their account. This makes it easy to go back and check if something doesn’t go as planned. It also helps train our team on what a great call with a Bulb member sounds like.

We also use analytics services like Google Analytics and Mixpanel to give us a better picture of how people use our website. These help us see the site through our member’s eyes and make it easier to find and fix errors that improve the usability of the site.

We sometimes share this kind of data in an aggregated form with agencies that are helping us. For example, we might tell an agency that 50% of people visit us on mobile. Our Cookie Policy has more detail on the types of cookies we use and the types that services we work with use. It also explains how you can, where possible, disable those.

 

3) Using data to communicate about and advertise Bulb

At Bulb, we communicate with all our members via email. Most of the time, if we’re emailing a member, it’s about their energy supply. But we do also send emails about things that might be useful to members, for example to let them know about the launch of our App.

We also let social media platforms like Facebook and search engines like Google know when someone is a Bulb member, by sharing details like a member’s email address. Doing this means we can make sure our members don’t get ads inviting them to join Bulb (again). Instead, we share other information about Bulb which we think our members are interested in, such as our blog posts. It also helps us find other people who might like to join Bulb.

We are using the data like this because (in the words of GDPR) we have a legitimate interest in doing this: it helps us tell our members about Bulb in a way that we think they will prefer and it helps find more Bulb members. Ultimately, this means spreading renewable energy to more people and we think that’s a good thing.

Our members always have the option to tell us they don’t want us to do this. It’s easy to opt out by emailing us at privacy@bulb.co.uk. And we have plans to make this even easier.

 

Continuing the good work with IF

This post has been a snapshot of how and why we use data at Bulb. But our commitment to good data practices goes beyond this. We have just started working with IF to improve our data ethics even further.

 
  The Bulb team kick off work on the data ethics toolkit with IF

The Bulb team kick off work on the data ethics toolkit with IF

 

IF will assess how Bulb manages data and create a Data Ethics Toolkit for us. The toolkit will help us continue to build privacy by design into our products and improve our data practices. We want to have the highest possible standards of data security and privacy. And we want to make sure we’re always always supporting our members to exercise their digital rights.


As ever, we’d love to hear any thoughts or questions you have on this. Reach us at privacy@bulb.co.uk or drop in on the Bulb Community.

Alexandra Meagher