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Social Media For Utilities: Law and Practices

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Here's the deck from my upcoming presentation on social media in the utility industry.

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Social Media For Utilities: Law and Practices

  1. 1. SocialMedia In theUtilityIndustryCarolynElefant.comMay 2013
  2. 2. Why social media inregulated industriesis like alcohol at anetworking eventA catalyst for facilitatingconversation, connectionand fun……or a recipe for disaster?
  3. 3. The Formula:User-generated content + 3rd party platform =LOSS OF CONTROL
  4. 4. Social Media &UtilitiesHOW areutilities usingsocial media?WHAT legal &regulatoryconsiderationsapply?Do’s, Don’ts &best practicesfor utilities onsocial media.
  5. 5. What’s driving the adoption ofsocial media by utilities?•Global/mobile•Rise of the digital natives•Customer service & connection
  6. 6. Source: LEXIS search social media 2009-2013
  7. 7. Breakdown ofUtility SocialMedia Use InCategories(2009-5/2013)
  8. 8. LINKED IN
  9. 9. Facebook
  10. 10. TWITTER
  11. 11. PINTEREST
  12. 12. YouTube
  13. 13. Mobile Apps
  15. 15. LawRegulatory/CodesofConductPlatform TOSSocial Media PolicyNETIQUETTE5sourcesofAuthorityGoverningSocialMediainRegulatedIndustries
  16. 16. LAW TRENDSSPECIFIC TO UTILITIES *EMPLOYMENT• Employee SM background checks & accuracy - employers face liability forinaccuracies (potential FCRA violations - Seehttp://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/13/technology/ftc-levies-first-fine-over-internet-data.html• Access to employee passwords/monitoring (Many states such as MD prohibitemployer from seeking PWs)• Right to organize v. right to organization: NLRB/Costco case - September 7,2012 - social media policy goes too far) “be aware that statements posted electronically(such as to online message boards or discussion groups) that damage the company,defame any individual or damage any person’s reputation or violate the policies outlined inthe Costco Employee Agreement, may be subject to discipline, up to and includingtermination of employment.”• Mobile liability (overtime and off-site negligence on the job)Note: Section does not cover copyright, IP, owership of SM accounts or other issues related togeneral business functions. See Power of Soc Media, ELJ article for further details
  17. 17. LAW TRENDS SPECIFIC TO UTILITIESADVERTISING/PRIVACY• FTC GreenGuides (Oct. 2012) re: certifications•Must disclose connection w/certifying agencies•Must have substantiation for claims even if certifying agency hasapproved it•FTC regulation re: blogging and chatroom disclosures•FTC guidance on mobile use (August 2012) and mobile payments(http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2013/03/mobilepymts.shtm) (includes guidance onprotecting customer data and process for bill dispute resolution. Will PUCsweigh in?)•FTC amends Child Online Privacy Protection Rule (parents gain morecontrol) (December 2012).
  18. 18. REGULATORYRate recovery - Lobbying/advertising v. education (See Potomac-Appalachian TransmissionHighline, LLC, 140 F.E.R.C. P61,229 (hearing over costs for tmission line challenged asimpermissible lobbying; costs include websites)Record keeping - Regulatory record keeping requirements (tools for capturing social meeintg)Crisis communication/safety - Commissions beginning to require social media as part of crisis.What are appropriate metrics? (frequency of tweets, availability of person to respond, utilityresponse to persistent complaints and photos?)Universal service - Concerns that not all users can access SM (though statistics showotherwise)Utility liability for employee misuse - 2013 Cal. PUC LEXIS 120 (PGE superior infiltrates anti-smart grid group as “Ralph”)Privacy - data collection; public responses, online photos of serviceData ownership - big data is a valuable asset. Who owns it? How can big data be used fordemand response and prediction?
  19. 19. REGULATORY•Issues regarding platform TOS• Importance of notifying users of platform TOS•Familiarity with platform TOS to avoid liability•Special rules on contests•Prohibitions on spam (Twitter suing spammers)Platformtermsofservice
  20. 20. Platformtermsofservice:ToolsTO TRACK TOS CHANGES
  21. 21. REGULATORY•Significant for risk management, BUT•Must comply with applicable law (e.g., NLRB)•Must comply with applicable regulatory requirements•Should not reinvent the wheel (tie in existing codes of conduct andrecords management practices; don’t re-write)•Broad principles with examples better than platform specific regulation(since platforms are always changing)•Be updated regularly for new developments (e.g., mobile)•Must be accompanied by adequate training, reputation monitoring and(potentially) cyber-insurance if no existing coveragePlatformtermsofserviceSocialMediaPOlicy
  22. 22. REGULATORYSocialMediaPOlicyCase: Matter of CPUC Investigation of PG&E Re: Anti-SmartMetering Groups, 2013 Cal. PUC LEXIS 120 - cites PG&Esocial media policy as guideline
  23. 23. NETIQUETTEBest summarizedas don’t be this
  24. 24. TakeAwAysDO be transparentDON’T reinvent the wheelDO differentiate between personal& professional useDO ensure that social mediapolicies apply to vendorsDO remember that SM policy isthe START, not STOP -monitor & revisit policyDO be an early adopter - risk canbe mitigated, lost opportunitycan’t
  25. 25. CONTACT:Carolyn ElefantLawOfficesofCarolynElefant2200 Pennsylvania Ave NW 4th Flr.Washington DC202-297-6100www.carolynelefant.com@carolynelefant, @nxtgenenergylawwww.linkedin.com/in/Carolynelefanthttp://pinterest.com/myshingle/