Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Dark Side Of The Smart Electrical Grid...

Can something as innocent as a smart meter to measure your electricity usage and advise you as to then the rates are cheapest invade your privacy?

Another concern, however, is about potential mis-use of energy companies' new ability to switch off appliances remotely."There'll be a lot of resistance to being told by your utility when you can do your washing," said Chris Wright, chief technology officer at Moixa Technology.
Yes.  Like any other technology, it can be misused.  This was brought out recently by Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF).

How much energy you use -- and when you use it -- can reveal surprisingly detailed information about your daily life. This wasn't true when energy usage was only measured once a month. But with shorter intervals and more frequent metering, the picture of your home life is remarkably clear. An executive with Siemens Energy recently told the Smart Grids and Cleanpower conference in Britain, "We, Siemens, have the technology to record it (energy consumption) every minute, second, microsecond, more or less live...From that we can infer how many people are in the house, what they do, whether they're upstairs, downstairs, do you have a dog, when do you habitually get up, when did you get up this morning, when do you have a shower: masses of private data." It's a virtual window into the home.
You can see from this chart, produced by the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel - Cyber Security Working Group just what can be learned through these smart meters:
click to enlarge

These are some of the fears that the EFF expressed as possible implications of this new technology:
Without strong protections, energy data can and will be used in ways that will hurt consumers. Marketing companies will desperately want to access this data to get intimate new insights into your family's day-to-day routine, and it's not hard to imagine an insurance company interpreting the data in a way that allows it to penalize you. Our privacy rights should be strongest in our home.**


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