How Bulb uses and protects your data
By Alex Meagher, Risk and Regulation Manager
How we use data at Bulb
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.