The Digital Economy Bill is working its way through Parliament. The second reading in the House of Lords is scheduled for 13 December 2016.

As part of the information sharing provisions in Part 5 of the Bill (Digital Government) there are express statutory powers to facilitate data sharing between certain public authorities and licensed gas and electricity suppliers. Information sharing must be for the purposes of reducing energy costs, or for improving the energy efficiency, health or financial well-being of those living in fuel poverty, and in connection with certain grant/obligation schemes e.g. the Warm Home Discount. The proposed provisions do not override the Data Protection Act 1998 and will be supplemented by Regulations and Codes of Practice. The Bill also introduces a new criminal offence for unlawful disclosure of personal information which, in addition to a fine, can carry a sentence of up to 2 years imprisonment.

Gas and electricity suppliers involved in relevant data sharing will want to monitor the development of these provisions to ensure that existing data sharing practices are compliant and that they are making the most of any new business opportunities.