The Pirates of Privacy – Can they Crack the Smart Grid?

The Vermont chapter of American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the privacy issue of Vermont’s new Smart Grid. The following highlight is the ACLU-VT e-update on VT legislation S.78 – The Advancement of Technological Infrastructure in Vermont.

“Smart Meter” Privacy Threats Highlighted

S. 78, a technology infrastructure bill, envisions big changes in the way Vermonters access the Internet, make calls, and use electricity. It’s the build-out of a “smart grid” by electric utilities that raises significant privacy issues. In a smart grid, there are “smart meters” in everyone’s home, to monitor and hopefully moderate electricity use. The meters record exactly how much electricity is being used by which appliances when — and transmit the data to utility headquarters for monitoring and analysis. The ACLU is worried about the collection of energy use data, and who will have access to it. As we found with cell phone tracking data, police often want access to databases with information about individuals’ whereabouts or activities. We want to make sure police have a warrant before any smart meter data is turned over. We will follow this issue through the utility regulatory process.

Link - http://www.acluvt.org/news/legislative_2011/e-update_5-12-11.htm#LETTER.BLOCK25

One of the contradictions in the privacy issue of this “debate” is whether or not Smart Meters will specify the appliance being used. Why would GMP Spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure have “stressed that the smart meters do not give the companies any additional information on what appliances are using the power.” if they do?
 
The White House released A POLICY FRAMEWORK FOR THE 21st CENTURY GRID: Enabling Our Secure Energy Future this June. Section 5.4 Data Privacy on Page 46 does not set a regulations on handling such data, it states,
“energy usage data likely does not fall within the scope of existing, sector-specific Federal privacy statutes”
Then it lays out the “shoulds, likeliness and considerations” of the various potential state and private sector abilities to protect this information, then stating that the administration has called on congress to pass a “consumer privacy bill of rights”… Even if congress passes such legislation I believe the Patriot Act effectively usurps it. The privacy issue is the least of my concerns with the Smart Grid, though it is a valid concern.

My #1 concern is the non-thermal effects of Radio Frequency technology that have NO regulation. FCC regulations only address the Thermal effects of RF tech. W.H.O. recently rescheduled RF tech as possibly cancer causing, we need more research to ensure that this is a Safe upgrade of our grid. Here is a page with many testimonies of people living with the effects of RF Tech -http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?page_id=2292

Vermont has received $70 Million in federal funding for installing the Smart Grid… According to Title XIII of EISA SEC. 1306, we will only be reimbursed 20% of the cost of the “qualifying” expenses of the Smart Grid by federal monies. That means we will be required to “Change our Behavior” of energy use to “save” money to pay off the leftover 80%. It is the ONLY way “Smart” Grid saves money, by informing us of our energy use so we can shift some of our “peak usage” to non-peakusage hours. We MIGHT save money if we change our usage, but this “upgrade” won’t save energy, None! How many years or decades of changing our energy usage will it take to pay off the Smart Grid?

Is “Moratorium” just a word? Or do they actually exist? 

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