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Energy smart meters are a threat to privacy, says watchdog
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Aurora



Joined: 24 Jan 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 7:40 am    Post subject: Energy smart meters are a threat to privacy, says watchdog Reply with quote

Quote:
The Guardian - 01/07/12

European Data Protection Supervisor warns 'massive collection of personal data' could be accessed without safeguards.

Article continues ...
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adam2
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To an extent I agree. Large organisations have a woeful record of keeping allegedly private information secure.

Initialy, most people might consider that their pattern of electricity useage is not private, unlike say banking or medical records.
There are however risks, Burglars would no doubt like to know when a home is empty. Muggers would like to know at what hour a person returns in order that they may rob them.
The direct marketing industry would no doubt put information on energy consumption to "good" use.

Some of the points made in the article are unduly alarming though, I dont see how a smart meter can detect the use of a baby monitor for example. Such devices use only a few watts, but for hours at a time, I dont see how a smart meter knows the difference between a baby monitor and a 3 watt lamp.
Nor would it know the difference between most medical appliances and other loads.
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SleeperService



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

They're muttering about equipment connected to the internet so vital equipment won't be turned off when they need to cut the demand. A parallel is fridges that 'know' what needs to be brought, hi-fi systems that'll update track info etc. etc.

The ultimate idea is to have every item with an identifier. This is already prevalent in the vehicle market; bulb blows, you fit a new one and then have to get the dealer to reset the computer to turn the power back on.

That's a very dangerous path to follow and, IMHO all the concerns noted above are valid.
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JavaScriptDonkey



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

adam2 wrote:

There are however risks, Burglars would no doubt like to know when a home is empty. Muggers would like to know at what hour a person returns in order that they may rob them.


Those aren't risks they are just DM type fantasies.

A burglar can just as easily watch your house to see when you go to work after having confirmed how many adults live there by reference to the Electoral Roll.

Why would a mugger need a time of day to mug you? Don't they just pick likely targets from the weak around them whenever they need another mobile phone to trade in for their next fix?

All smart meters will achieve is lower costs and more accurate bills.
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adam2
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can not agree.
A burglar could of course observe a house to determine when it is empty, but that takes a lot of time and effort.
With acces to the smart metering database, the burglar could purchase a list of properties normally empty, and which ones use most electricity and which may therefore be more worth burgling.
Likewise muggers could buy a list of when different customers return home, perhaps linked to other databases such as payday dates or recent purchases of costly portable electronics.

I doubt that smart meters will be more accurate, present meters are already very accurate. Any error in an estimated reading is automaticly corrected when the meter is next read.

And as for cheaper electricity, we will see, but I doubt it!
The substantial costs of the metering programe will have to be met, presumably by customers. Remembering that it will cost a lot more than expected.
At times of relative surplus, power could be sold more cheaply, and a higher price charged at times of relative shortage.
That wont produce an overall saving unless significant consumption can be shifted to the cheaper times.

I can forsee howels outrage already "wicked fat cat power bosses charge more just when families need it most"
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hodson2k9



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:


Those aren't risks they are just DM type fantasies.

A burglar can just as easily watch your house to see when you go to work after having confirmed how many adults live there by reference to the Electoral Roll.

Why would a mugger need a time of day to mug you? Don't they just pick likely targets from the weak around them whenever they need another mobile phone to trade in for their next fix?



Yep agreed!

I know alot of burglars and muggers and i can assure you that 9 times out of 10 its just a spur of the moment thing in order for them to get there next 10 bag or bottle of vodka!

They walk the streets until they find what they consider a suitable target. Don't get me wrong some houses are specifically targeted but thats due to either the vunrebilaty of a target or there wealth.

The average street robber or mugger doesn't posses the brain power to even think through a plan. Its just pot luck!

Maybe the smart meters could assist serious crime groups yes but if thats the case most people need not worry as only the wealthy would really be a target.
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JohnB



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's like ID cards, a centralised medical records database, and other big systems that store personal data. In an ideal world, where the genuine wellbeing of every citizen is the only objective, it could bring real benefits. But we don't live in that sort of world, and the risks of misuse are too high.
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mobbsey



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Neo, the Matrix has you!
Wink Wink Rolling Eyes
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adam2
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Apart from concerns regarding privacy and security, I have my doubts about the reliability of this technology.

I understood that the smart meters being installed in the UK did NOT have any remote switching or cutting off facility, and that any errors would be confined to billing errors, and not the accidental or unwarrented cutting off of the supply.

This thread however
http://www.powerswitch.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=19948&highlight=smart+meters

Suggests that the meters DO have some variety of remote switching or cutting of facility, and that this may operate improperly.

"we regret that due to a technical software issue, we are unable to supply electricity at present. We have taken on additional call center staff to answer your enquiries. Our branches will be open extended hours, and you may sit in your local office to warm up if you wish. we expect that most supplies will be updated by next monday. an investigation is underway, but initial reports suggests that this glitch was caused by a software upgrade."
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SleeperService



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like the apology bit at the end, I suspect that'll be copy and pasted into somebody's files ready for the inevitable Confused

Well since Joyce had the meter replaced she's had no issues at all. We had a lightning strike to the lamp post outside her house a few weeks ago, power went off and came back on again, it killed my fridge and washing machine though. Went round to check on her and no problems Very Happy

I think I'm becoming a Luddite about this new technology stuff.....or then again maybe I should be paranoid Wink
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burble61



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:27 pm    Post subject: Smart Meters - remote disconnection Reply with quote

Just to answer this - the specification for Smart Meters for the UK will definitely include the ability to restrict or disconnect energy supply. Not close to it on a daily basis but i think the specs are now going through European approval.

The meters will provide half-hourly readings (although they may only be sent once a day). They will also alert the local network operator when you have lost supply - a definite improvement on the present situation when they only know you have lost supply when you call them....

Lots of political mischief making going on at the moment - the original impact assessment by DECC is looking hopelessly optimistic and they haven't yet got around to testing a representative service end to end yet.

Most amused by the EU Data Protection Supervisor getting concerned about something another part of the EU mandated...contrary to all the spin this wasn't a UK decision to implement smart metering, although we did gold-plate the requirement from 80% of homes to 100%. Bet that gets diluted when they get the costs in though!
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bealers



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

UK smart meter policy is not complete. DECC is publishing its proposed policies as consultations. They are all here, fill your boots.

A few specific points on the proposals (which incidentally only apply to Gas & Electricity):

Meters will have the ability to switch between credit and pre-pay tariffs. For the latter they will have remote switching capabilities, euphemistically referred to as Disablement of Supply.

The UK's data protection laws will be changed to count consumption information as personal data. Therefore any messing with this data will be a direct contravention of data protection laws.

The default granularity of data read is 1 month, the provider can do this without permission for 'the purposes of billing and fulfilling regulated duties'. They can take daily readings unless you opt-out. Half hourly reads will only be taken if you opt-in.

The technical specification has not been finalised. We're currently in the foundation phase which is akin to the wild west. The rollout won't begin in earnest until 2014 when all of the proposals become law.
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adam2
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:49 pm    Post subject: Re: Smart Meters - remote disconnection Reply with quote

burble61 wrote:
They will also alert the local network operator when you have lost supply - a definite improvement on the present situation when they only know you have lost supply when you call them....

!


Not an improvement for everyone.

At present if somone wishes to renew their electrical installation, without informing the part pee police, it is common practice to illegally remove the fuse from the suppliers cutout.
This is in theory an offence, but normally they do not know about it.

The cut out fuseholder should be sealed, and the subsequent absence of the seal should be a cause for enquiry. But in practice with the fragmented state of the electrical supply industry, no one seems to notice or to care much.

A smart meter will however promptly "tell" its operator that the supply has failed. Any failure affecting only a single property suggests an illegall fuse removal.

So no more simple upgrades to existing installations, without bringing all parts up the latest standards. (unless one is brave enough or more likely foolhardy enough to do it live)
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adam2
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PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2013 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks to be going well !
Large scale introduction of smart meters delayed by another year.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22480068
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Little John



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PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2013 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A very simple rule of thumb I employ is that the less information about me, my consumption habits and my life in general that get into the databases of large organisations, be they public or private, the better. Times are getting tough and they are going to get tougher and those higher up the food chain than me are going to use such technologies more and more to keep people like me under surveillance and under control. In other words, we are going to be "managed"

No thanks.


Last edited by Little John on Fri May 10, 2013 2:23 pm; edited 1 time in total
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