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Privacy


      Concerns about privacy have risen with most forms of wireless use.  The advent of EZ-Pass toll systems as a way to automate collections and eliminate cashiers immediately brought forth the scenario of time-stamped entry & exit data from a toll road being shared with authorities if it indicates a driver was speeding on documented occasions. It was discovered that cities like New York "ping" transponders at choke points, not to charge tolls, but to count vehicles for traffic flow monitoring.  Such "where & when" stats could be shared with police.  The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) "has silently scanned tags for years to monitor the flow of New York City traffic.  But...the agency scrambles the serial numbers to anonymize vehicles and their owners." [210210a]  The fact that E-ZPasses can be used as a tracking device outside of toll payment, is not disclosed in the terms and conditions.

      Retail Analytics lets stores track customers near or in the store using their cell phones much as websites can track the clicks of their customers. 


Smart Meters Aid & Abet the Invasion of Privacy.

     A paper outlining cyber vulnerability and other issues arising with the

worldwide deployments of smart meters [211] noted that in 2008 Dutch courts had determined that "fine-grained central data collection by smart meters to be an unacceptable infringement of citizens’ privacy and security, following opposition by the Dutch consumers’ association." [211a] 

     National Grid asserts to maintaining "robust security to ensure data is safe and consumers are protected. All data transmitted via the Itron® smart meters is encrypted to ensure the privacy of customer information." [212]  in referring to the meters they are using in the Worcester Pilot of 15,000 customers.  The new Landis & Gyr® meters used in Pennsylvania Electric's system encrypt data transmissions also [220] so we can rest assured that at least the neighborhood geek will not be able to "read" our meters remotely with a digital receiver.​  

      Patricia Burke of HaltMAsmartmeters.org has discovered a privacy concern regarding the National Grid smart meter pilot:

 

National Grid purchased demographic, lifestyle, and buying behaviour data (financial) on pilot participants from InfoGroup and Core Logic and matched to Pilot accounts by combinations of address, phone number, and/or customer name.

 

The relevant data is shown in the Interim Evaluation Report to the DPU, published on Feb. 24, 2916. [213]  

      Aside from data collected by smart meters and its use/misuse by utilities

and third party "partners" (including government agencies) we have seen the ease with which our banking and credit info can be stolen from trusted institutions with "solid, foolproof" security measures in place.  Even with data being sent only to the utility on its own private network the question becomes"How secure is our data once it is stored on the utility's systems?"

     The Department of Energy proffered a voluntary code of conduct governing privacy of data from smart meters [9a] and President Obama, in January, 2015, announced the release of the final concepts and principles for a Voluntary Code of Conduct (VCC) governing utilities, government agencies and any other parties regarding the collection, storage, dissemination or sharing of utility customers' private data, that is, the US government's Data

Guard Energy Data Privacy Program. [212]

     But the value of customer analytics may be greater than the cost of electric power consumed:  It is now used to make the smart grid smarter and more efficient but could eventually be sold to retailers and others - with customer consent - in exchange for a discount, for example.  "The roll-out of AMI in many utility service territories has produced large amounts of customer generated data, and utilities are seeking opportunities to maximize its value." [216] 

     Utilities are eager about the prospects:  "Dr. Stephen Pratt, Chief Technical Officer for CenterPoint Energy, stated the following during an

interview:

“We have an entire organization that’s gotten behind data as an asset

 … We get a lot of data.  We do 221,000,000 meter reads a day …

We can do nothing with that data, or we can mine that data

and use what we find from mining that data …

That is very exciting to me today.”"[218]


     Utilities will 'swear' their smart meters are not surveillance devices but the very thing a meter does, collecting granular data about energy use at a specific home or site by specific persons on a continuous, ongoing basis, fits the definition of surveillance.  While specific activities are not recorded they can be inferred by analyzing amounts of energy use at specific times of day. [219] 












About ONZO


     Most would agree a smart meter's ability to detect tampering by customers is a good thing as well as a meter being able to send alarms to

the utility if a customer's service is overheating.  But a spokesman for PECO (Pennsylvania Electric), which has practically completed 1.7 million SM installations gloats, "Now that the system is in, we can really start to extract the value," said Dickens. "There's so much data there that we have to sit down and figure out how to mine it." [222]  The Landis & Gyr® models that replaced the 186,000 Sensus® meters changed out in 2012 to avoid risk of fire have built in GPS; The device awakens on installation and reports its GPS coordinates to the PECO system. 


ACLU Short Privacy Video


While this does not pertain directly to Smart Meter / Smart Grid technology, it shows how the various pieces of information that are collected on us can be combined and used against us.

 

Details like when we are home and how activities can be deduced from spikes in our power use at various times throughout the day.


National Grid using "Disneyland" marketing for smart meter pilot

National Grid cleverly markets Smart Meter technology by trying to sell you on how wonderful it will be to live in a "House of Tomorrow" where you can remotely monitor & control your appliances, etc.


Data Worth More than Power Consumed?

“I think the data is going to be worth a lot more than the commodity that’s being consumed to generate the data,” said Miles Keogh, director of grants and research at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.


All sorts of inferences about people’s private lives are potentially available from detailed energy consumption data. The number of people inside a house. Daily routines. Degree of religious observance. Household appliance usage. Even, according to two German hackers, what’s on the television, given a fast enough meter refresh rate.


“Very sensitive information can be revealed about homes, and homes are the most sacred privacy environment,” said Nancy King, an Oregon State University business law and ethics academic who’s studying smart meter deployments.

 



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9a    http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/energy-electricity-data-use-113901.html#ixzz3Ox6f4gRw 

210  E-ZPasses Get Read All Over New York (Not Just At Toll Booths), Kashmir Hill,

        FORBES STAFF, SEP 12, 2013

        http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2013/09/12/e-zpasses-get-read-all-over-new-york-not-just-at-toll-booths/#7cd5ab8d3cfc

210a http://www.popsci.com/article/diy/ezpass-hack-covert-scanning

211   Who controls the off switch? Ross Anderson & Shailendra Fuloria, Computer

         Laboratory, 15 JJ Thomson Avenue Cambridge University, England,

         Ross.Anderson@cl.cam.ac.ukShailendra.Fuloria@cl.cam.ac.uk

         http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/Papers/meters-offswitch.pdf 

211a  “Het wetsvoorstel ‘slimme meters’: een privacy-toets op basis van art. 8 EVRM”,

         C Cuipers, BJ Koops, Universiteit van Tilburg 2008, page 2

212    https://www.nationalgridus.com/MA-Home/Smart-Energy-Solutions/FAQs

213    National Grid Smart Energy Solutions Pilot Interim Evaluation Report

         Prepared for: National Grid Navigant Consulting, Inc. 1375 Walnut Street

         Suite 200 Boulder, CO 80302 303.728.2500 navigant.com February 22, 2016

         http://web1.env.state.ma.us/DPU/FileRoomAPI/api/Attachments/Get/?path=10-82/NGrid_Smart_Energy_Solutions_R.pdf

216    DataGuard Energy Data Privacy Program

         https://www.smartgrid.gov/data_guard.html

217    Program on Technology Innovation: Data Analytics & Customer Insights

         http://www.epri.com/abstracts/Pages/ProductAbstract.aspx?ProductId=000000003002003545

218   Utilities ‘Very Excited’ about Mining Smart Meter Data and Invading

         our Privacy, by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions, May 19, 2015 

         http://smartgridawareness.org/2015/05/19/utilities-excited-about-mining-smart-meter-data/

219   Smart Meter Surveillance versus ‘Very Granular Insights’ by K.T. Weaver,

        SkyVision Solutions, September 22, 2015

        http://smartgridawareness.org/2015/09/22/smart-meter-surveillance-versus-very-granular-insights/

220   About ONZO, Dec 7, 2016     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uluKjzqHDz0 
222   Peco smart-meter installation close to done by Andrew Maykuth, Philly

        Inquirer Staff Writer, December 7, 2015

        http://articles.philly.com/2015-12-07/business/68812244_1_smart-meters-new-meters-cathy-engel-menendez 

225   http://www.popsci.com/article/diy/ezpass-hack-covert-scanning