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Is Your Electricity Meter Spying On You? 405

lee1 writes "If you have a 'smart meter,' it is collecting data that can reveal when you wake up, when you leave for work and come home, when you go on vacation and when you take a shower. This data is commercially valuable and, if sold to third parties, can lead to privacy invasion on a massive scale. The California Public Utility Commission is reacting to the gas and electric company's mass installation of these meters with new proposals for strong privacy protections."
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Is Your Electricity Meter Spying On You?

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  • Privacy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Renraku ( 518261 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @01:48PM (#36096488) Homepage

    People need to realize that any device that can collect and transmit data will probably be used to collect more data than they should. That data will PROBABLY end up being sold, simply because people are willing to pay for it. Since it is our data, why can't we demand a cut of the profits?

  • Re:But.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @01:49PM (#36096512)

    Your smart meter data shows you were in the shower at 09:30 this morning and not stuck in traffic! Don't bother coming into work tomorrow Haffner - you're fired!

  • The lesson (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Toe, The ( 545098 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @01:58PM (#36096644)

    The lesson here: any data that is collectable will be collected. Any data that is usable will be used.

    It would be entirely naive to think that law enforcement would restrain themselves from using data that is right there for the taking. All it takes is a little strong-arming of the company in charge of the data.

    That includes consumption of electricity, water, gas, internet, cable-tv, UPS-deliveries, and anything else someone else pumps into your house.

  • Re:Classic TEMPEST (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @02:04PM (#36096714) Homepage Journal

    No, attitudes on privacy aren't diverging. You're just misrepresenting them.

    I post on Facebook what I choose to post. Therefore, Facebook posts are not a privacy violation (unless they ignore my privacy settings) because the act of making those posts was an act of explicit consent to share that information with the people I chose to share it with. Yes, stupid people will post stupid things that allow others to invade their privacy, but you can't legislate away stupidity.

    By contrast, I don't choose what information my water meter collects. Therefore, the water company should not be allowed to disclose any information that it collects. Similarly, Facebook should not be allowed to disclose anything that I don't explicitly allow them to disclose. And so on.

    Disclosure of private information should require explicit consent. The deeper you hide that consent in some service agreement, the bigger the privacy violation you're committing. Simple as that.

  • by chemicaldave ( 1776600 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @02:05PM (#36096726)
    The flaw in your logic is that not everyone uses facebook. Facebook is voluntary, the electric meter is not.
  • Re:But.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @02:16PM (#36096884)

    You say that jokingly, and yet, that is the SOLE piece of evidence that has been used at least three times in my county alone (three that I personally know of, probably has been more) to justify breaking down someone's door at 3AM on a drug raid. Granted, one time out of those three the person actually WAS growing pot, but the other two times? And no, the people were not compensated in any way, including for the damage to their property and possessions.

  • Re:What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @03:20PM (#36097822)

    Smart metering should reduce power costs and consumption, not increase it.

    Welcome to the exponential part of the population growth curve, where it doesn't matter what you do, there are no longer enough resources to go around.

  • Re:But.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @03:52PM (#36098226) Homepage

    That seems backwards. During a drought they should just increase the price of water, until usage goes down as much as they need.

    Leaving ordinary people unable to afford to flush their toilets, and rich people with lush, green lawns.

    The market doesn't solve problems like this very well, contrary to what people seem to believe.

Mr. Cole's Axiom: The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.