Smart meters could be 'spy in the home'

Smart meters could become a 'spy in the home' by allowing social workers and health authorities to monitor households, adding to concern at Britain's surveillance society.

It adds: "Information from smart meters could also make it possible for a supplier to determine when electricity or gas was being used in a property and, to a degree, the types of technology that were being used within the property. This could be used to target energy efficiency advice and offers of measures, social programmes etc to householders."

Doretta Cocks, founder of the Campaign for Weekly Waste Collection, said: "This is Orwellian. We're already under surveillance for what we put outside the home in bins and now we could be watched for what we're doing inside as well.

"Most of us are happy to reduce our energy consumption or reduce waste but these measures always seem to come at the expense of our privacy. If I want advice on energy efficiency I will ask for it."

Guy Herbert, general secretary of NO2ID, said: "Information from smart meters might be useful to energy providers and perhaps even their customers, but there's no reason for any public authority to have access to it – unless they've a warrant to do so.

"This document is a prime example of government efforts to shoehorn data sharing and feature creep into every new policy. For example, it suggests that NHS or social services could use the system to monitor 'vulnerable householders', or that companies could use the system to spam customers with adverts for their services – having paid the government for the privilege, no doubt."

The DECC document adds households could even have their power to some appliances turned off remotely to help the national grid if there is too much demand. It says: "In terms of potentially intrusive non-physical behaviour unrelated to data, smart metering potentially offers scope for remote intervention such as dynamic demand management, which is designed to assist management of the network and thus security of supply. This could involve direct supplier or distribution company interface with equipment, such as refrigerators, within a property, overriding the control of the householder."

It also says potential extra uses for smart meters would need to be checked to ensure compliance with the Data Protection Act.

The Information Commissioner's Office said it had already discussed the issue of smart meters with some suppliers, including Eon, Scottish Power and British Gas. A spokesman said the ICO would "continue to maintain a close dialogue to ensure that their introduction does not compromise customers' privacy".

He added: "Important issues include what information is stored on the meters themselves, in particular whether information identifying the householder will be held. In any event energy companies will clearly need to hold records linking meters with householders and all the information must be held in line with the requirements of the Data Protection Act."

A spokeswoman for the DECC said: "The accurate, informative data that smart meters provide will be of great value to consumers. Rules and safeguards governing access to, and the use of, the data from smart meters will be reviewed as part of the Government's work in preparing for the start of the mass smart meter roll-out."

Consumer Focus, the watchdog, has also expressed concern about the privacy implications of the meters, saying consumers are "at risk of unfair, excessive, inequitable and inefficient charging" because energy companies could use the new data to introduce more complex tariffs to maximise profits at peak times.

The government has yet to decide who will pay for replacing Britain's 47 million meters, which could cost up to 8bn over the next 20 years. Its preferred option is for the cost to be met by energy firms, who stand to gain the most from meters as they remove the need to employ meter readers or calculate estimated bills.

More than two million households in Britain have microchips in their council bin. Sensors and weighing equipment fitted to the back of each rubbish lorry allow the council to collect data as each bin is raised. Information collected from outside each household is downloaded to a database that allows officials to monitor how much waste each household is producing for waste and for recycling. Officials then use the data to target errant streets and households in a bid to increase recycling rates from 43 per cent to 60 per cent.

It adds: "Information from smart meters could also make it possible for a supplier to determine when electricity or gas was being used in a property and, to a degree, the types of technology that were being used within the property. This could be used to target energy efficiency advice and offers of measures, social programmes etc to householders."

Doretta Cocks, founder of the Campaign for Weekly Waste Collection, said: "This is Orwellian. We're already under surveillance for what we put outside the home in bins and now we could be watched for what we're doing inside as well.

"Most of us are happy to reduce our energy consumption or reduce waste but these measures always seem to come at the expense of our privacy. If I want advice on energy efficiency I will ask for it."

Guy Herbert, general secretary of NO2ID, said: "Information from smart meters might be useful to energy providers and perhaps even their customers, but there's no reason for any public authority to have access to it – unless they've a warrant to do so.

"This document is a prime example of government efforts to shoehorn data sharing and feature creep into every new policy. For example, it suggests that NHS or social services could use the system to monitor 'vulnerable

householders', or that companies could use the system to spam customers with adverts for their services – having paid the government for the privilege, no doubt."

The DECC document adds households could even have their power to some appliances turned off remotely to help the national grid if there is too much demand. It says: "In terms of potentially intrusive non-physical behaviour unrelated to data, smart metering potentially offers scope for remote intervention such as dynamic demand management, which is designed to assist management of the network and thus security of supply. This could involve direct supplier or distribution company interface with equipment, such as refrigerators, within a property, overriding the control of the householder."

It also says potential extra uses for smart meters would need to be checked to ensure compliance with the Data Protection Act.

The Information Commissioner's Office said it had already discussed the issue of smart meters with some suppliers, including Eon, Scottish Power and British Gas. A spokesman said the ICO would "continue to maintain a close dialogue to ensure that their introduction does not compromise customers' privacy".

He added: "Important issues include what information is stored on the meters themselves, in particular whether information identifying the householder will be held. In any event energy companies will clearly need to hold records linking meters with householders and all the information must be held in line with the requirements of the Data Protection Act."

A spokeswoman for the DECC said: "The accurate, informative data that smart meters provide will be of great value to consumers. Rules and safeguards governing access to, and the use of, the data from smart meters will be reviewed as part of the Government's work in preparing for the start of the mass smart meter roll-out."

Consumer Focus, the watchdog, has also expressed concern about the privacy implications of the meters, saying consumers are "at risk of unfair, excessive, inequitable and inefficient charging" because energy companies could use the new data to introduce more complex tariffs to maximise profits at peak times.

The government has yet to decide who will pay for replacing Britain's 47 million meters, which could cost up to 8bn over the next 20 years. Its preferred option is for the cost to be met by energy firms, who stand to gain the most from meters as they remove the need to employ meter readers or calculate estimated bills.

More than two million households in Britain have microchips in their council bin. Sensors and weighing equipment fitted to the back of each rubbish lorry allow the council to collect data as each bin is raised. Information collected from outside each household is downloaded to a database that allows officials to monitor how much waste each household is producing for waste and for recycling. Officials then use the data to target errant streets and households in a bid to increase recycling rates from 43 per cent to 60 per cent.

"To Achieve World Government it is necessary to remove from the minds of men their individualism, their loyalty to family traditions and national identification" Brock Chisholm - Director of the World Health Organization
 
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The fact is that "political correctness" is all about creating uniformity. Individualism is one of the biggest obstacles in the way of the New World Order. They want a public that is predictable and conditioned to do as it's told without asking questions.

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