Smart meters: Data spy or key energy device?

Posted: August 29, 2018 by oldbrew in Big Brother, Energy, government, Legal
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The court ruling described below is only for the state of Illinois so far, but other jurisdictions may follow. The report says US smart meter coverage could reach 80% by 2020.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has handed down a landmark ruling, stating that data collected by smart meters is protected by the Fourth Amendment, reports PEI.

The court pointed out that the smart devices, in fact, collect information for a deeper insight which can be obtained by thermal imaging tech.

Furthermore, the court held that residents have a reasonable expectation of privacy and government access of this data constitutes, in essence, a search.

Jamie Williams, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said: “The Seventh Circuit recognised that smart meters pose serious risks to the privacy of all of our homes, and that rotely applying analog-era case law to the digital age simply doesn’t work.”

This has shone the spotlight on whether or not smart meters can be used to spy on consumers. Through the collection of usage data at high frequencies (every five, 15 or 30 minutes), a clear picture can be garnered of activity occurring on the property.

Individual lifestyles can be examined, such as predicting daily routine, sleep patterns, meal times and periods away from the property.

Continued here.

  1. Dave Ward says:

    The second graph in this post: is often shown as a warning of how Smart Meters can pose home security risks. However until I read the above post (and the detailed comments), I assumed it was genuine. So while it may not be possible to determine exactly what appliances are being used, there would still be ample evidence of whether the property is occupied or not.

  2. stpaulchuck says:

    If law enforcement _really_ needed that data they could get a search warrant. Duh.

  3. oldbrew says:

    StP – the data might tell them whether it’s worth getting a search warrant 😐

  4. ivan says:

    Dave, with today’s smart appliances it is very easy to determine which appliance is running – your smart toaster will tattle on you through its hacked IoT interface which has little or no security. Likewise the smart meters themselves next to no security on their IO interface – in fact I am quite surprised that the script kiddies haven’t started switching off lights in sequence in city tower blocks just for fun.

    One of the best examples of a smart meter instillation I saw was one in a cabinet – said plastic cabinet was painted with conducive paint and when the door was closed it acted as a Faraday cage completely cutting off the radio signal. The installers never did work out what caused it and after 4 different meters gave up.

    Smart meters are not a good idea for the consumer and only have one use – load shedding when the unreliable renewables don’t produce and the subsidy farmers don’t have any backup to make up the shortfall. There is a way round that, make every renewable energy supplier have a standby generator that can supply the nameplate value of their subsidy farm so they supply the contracted amount of electricity for the length of the contract, the problem is it requires a government with balls to produce such requirements and it would upset the greens and all the MPs that are on the various subsidy farm boards.

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    I’ve shifted to using propane for cooking, so the meal times are not visible. It is cheaper than my All Electric Kitchen in California. Several light are left on 24 x 7 (they last longer for electronic ballast bulbs and power per bulb is low enough to not care). The fridge just cycles and the A/C just follows temperature.

    Only thing really tied to people now is the TV (low watts LCD) and the cleaning appliances. (The water heater is gas…)

    Oh, and nothing has communications or control so nobody can remotely talk to my appliances.

    If it is someday needed, a battery box and inverter will further confound usage patterns. I already own the inverter… battery TBD.

  6. Dave Ward says:

    @ ivan – “Dave, with today’s smart appliances it is very easy to determine which appliance is running”

    I do not have (nor will I EVER have) any “Smart” appliances, so they won’t get my usage that way! But I am still going to resist having smart meters for as long as possible. I already know the power used by all my electric devices – thanks to a £15 plug-in monitor from now defunct Maplin – and I have been sending monthly readings to my supplier for years. It’s the “remote switch-off” facility that I do not accept more than anything…

  7. Jim says:

    As there are fewer manufacturers of appliances, you may be out of luck on finding a non-networked device. And don’t count on the old twienty year cycle of repair it, it’s now down to ten or less. And usage savings, forget it. Newer does not equate to better. Just more complicated.

  8. u.k.(us) says:

    I live in Illinois, my anti-intruder devices run 24-7, just background noise even if the washer/dryer/furnace/ac are running.

  9. BoyfromTottenham says:

    Talking to a friend last week, he said that whilst driving on an unfamiliar route, he discussed with his wife how long it might take to get to where-ever they were going. Suddenly an electronic voice from one of their cell phones says something like ‘there is a 15 minute delay on this route due to congestion, you will arrive at your destination at two forty five’. They were both shocked. Neither had turned on the navigation app. Spooky!

  10. Russ Wood says:

    In an experimental (but demanded) test in my previous suburb of Johannesburg, the smart meters were read via Bluetooth ™ challenge and response. However, the meters ‘ran away’ and for over a week jammed ALL Bluetooth frequencies in the area. This included gate or garage remote controls, access control remotes for house and car, and even my simple weather station! They were all eventually reprogrammed remotely, but for a week, they caused havoc.