New 'smart' electrical meters raise privacy issues

Discussion in 'privacy general' started by lotuseclat79, Nov 7, 2009.

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  1. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79 Registered Member

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    New 'smart' electrical meters raise privacy issues.

    -- Tom
     
  2. noone_particular

    noone_particular Registered Member

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    That's going too far with their claims. All that meter can do is tell the utility how much electric you're using at any given time period. That's all the usage records would do as well. There's no way the meter can determine what was using that power. They can't tell if an additional 100 watt load is from a light bulb or a stereo, or if that 5000 watt draw is a hot water tank or a clothes dryer or an electric range. If they were so inclined, they could take an educated guess regarding what was consuming the power, but that's all. Homes have too many devices that run automatically to guess which one is using the power at a given moment. The only way that they could get more specific information would be to tap into each household circuit individually and monitor each of them. The only other way would be if all the appliances had the ability to send usage data on their own.

    I'm more distrusting than most when it comes to privacy and security and IMO, the privacy claims are seriously exaggerated. Other than the utility company, the only one who might have a use for such records would be the customer trying to lower their energy usage. To anyone else, it's a lot of useless information that says nothing definite.

    In some places, the usage is monitored by 2 meters, one for peak demand periods, one for off peak. Power usage is billed at 2 different rates, depending on when it's consumed. It's likely that these "smart meters" would be used to implement a similar type of billing. People who can shift their heavy usage to off-peak times would pay less for the same amount of power. This would be an incentive for users to install timers on heavy usage devices like hot water tanks, chargers for electric vehicles, etc. Other than the initial cost, I don't see a problem with the idea.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2009
  3. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    Quote: 'All that meter can do is tell the utility how much electric you're using at any given time period.'

    From that, a lot can be inferred.
    Different appliances have different energy consumption patterns.
    For example, amount of energy used in a given amount of time, how long energy is used. Electricity being used or not being used can indicate whether someone is at home or asleep, for example.

    It's not just that, this information can be combined with other information, like water consumption, tax records, social security data, registration of use of cars and public transport, mobile phones (location data), cameras (CCTV in the UK), etc.
    It also depends on where you live.

    Making sense of all this data is just in the early phase, Big Brother is the future.

    Who is going to stop them ?
     
  4. Scoobs72

    Scoobs72 Registered Member

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    Hahahaha, I think you somewhat overestimate the capabilities and resources of the companies behind these things. The inland/internal revenue can barely get a tax return right. Same applies to the mobile phone companies and they just about manage to keep their networks up and running. As for CCTV cameras, there's nobody to monitor them, let alone enough police to do anything about whatever they record. Most companies can't even manage their own internal systems, so some concept of all these companies joining up their billing and record systems into some sort of big brother 'monitor-thon' should have you rolling on the floor holding your ribs in hysterics.
     
  5. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    It´s not the companies I'm concerned about, it's the 'government'.
     
  6. funkydude

    funkydude Registered Member

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    I have to agree that this is hardly a privacy issue, so someone knows what time I go to bed or how much TV I watch, so..? It's not like they are recording specifically what channels you are watching etc..

    Energy efficiency > "minor" privacy issue.
     
  7. Scoobs72

    Scoobs72 Registered Member

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    ...who are even more incompetent that the companies. I think you can sleep soundly at night :)
     
  8. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    Not really. Incompetent at catching serious criminals ? Yes.
    Competent at charging and convicting people of things they didn't do ? Yes.

    Don't forget they have an unlimited supply of money, so that's not an issue when an IT budget is exceeded.

    Sleep soundly, just trust your government ...
     
  9. Scoobs72

    Scoobs72 Registered Member

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    "Paranoia is the delusion that your enemies are organized"...Arthur D. Hlavaty :)
     
  10. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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  11. Dr payne

    Dr payne Guest

    I guess this would be a concern for an indoor farmer.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 21, 2009
  12. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    Only for them ?
    I guess you 'trust the government' ? :cautious:
     
  13. BlueZannetti

    BlueZannetti Administrator

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    To all:

    A couple of off-topic posts removed.

    Drop the politically directed snark, or the thread closes.

    Blue
     
  14. Searching_ _ _

    Searching_ _ _ Registered Member

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    As noone stated, I also don't think there are any serious privacy issues with a smart meter.

    There are technological issues combined with shady estimating where smart meters cause excessive billing.

    Power outages, smart meter is powered by the electrical system with no battery backup, cause the billing system to use an estimated rate instead of the rate before the outage.
    Several people were charged for electrical usage during the outage.

    The smart meters use wireless data uploads that don't work perfectly in all circumstances, when there is no data, estimated rate applied = high monthly bill.
    One individual, $1200 to $7000. How is that for an estimated bill.

    PG&E Struggles Against Customer Anger Over Smart Meters
    Lawsuit filed against PG&E for smart meter overcharges

    It is more important for you to worry about being robbed, then about the very minor privacy issue.
    Only ones that need to worry about that are those running a lot of grow lamps. :D ;)
     
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