By B.N. Frank
Opposition to utility “smart” meters (electric, gas, and water) has been ongoing worldwide since companies started deploying them. Utilities encourage or force consumers to accept “smart” meters (see 1, 2) in order to remotely control and/or ration energy use (see 1, 2) as well as collect consumer usage data 24/7 to sell and/or share with 3rd parties. In the U.K., “smart” meter complaints and problems continue to be publicized (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). At least one journalist recommends that consumers refuse them; however, ½ million of the poorest households are not being given that option. Recently it was also reported that the government will now be collecting consumer usage data as well.
From MSN via The Daily Mail:
Government to collect data from your smart meter: Fresh privacy row breaks out as energy companies share information on usage
Story by Helena Kelly For The Daily Mail
A privacy row has broken out over the energy bills support package after it emerged data from household meters is being shared with the Government.
Ministers quietly announced in October it would begin collecting and processing personal information from people’s smart and traditional meters.
Experts say it sets a ‘dangerous precedent’ and will affect smart meter customers more because their devices contain more sensitive data.
When smart meters first arrived, some feared they would hold too much information on households as they track energy usage in real time.
Experts warn this could leave homes vulnerable to burglars if they managed to hack the gadget and work out from readings when nobody was in.
But customers were assured the data could only be viewed by their supplier.
The introduction of the Energy Bills Support Scheme and Energy Price Guarantee means that information will now be shared with the Government.
The first scheme gives customers £66 a month in winter to help with bills, while the guarantee, brought in by former prime minister Liz Truss, caps average energy bills at £2,500.
Ministers want to use meter data to help identify fraudsters, such as those who claim energy bills support on an unused second property, for example.
Shadow Energy Minister Alan Whitehead says: ‘This proposal is an outrageous piece of private data-plundering and goes against every assurance put in place concerning the privacy of data generated from smart meter use.
‘It needs to be stopped immediately. There are many other ways to check on possible fraud in obtaining Energy Price Guarantee refunds.’
Nick Hunn, founder of consultancy firm WiFore, adds: ‘Customers were promised their smart meter data would only ever be shared with their supplier. For the Government to go back on this without a consultation sets a dangerous precedent.’
A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesman says: ‘The Government will only retain data for as long as required to support the success of our energy bills support schemes, including minimising any risk of fraud.
‘Any data needed . . . will be processed fully in line with UK GDPR and the Data Access and Privacy Framework, which protects smart meter customers’ privacy.
‘Personal information such as names, addresses and bank details are never stored on a smart meter.’
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Problems associated with “smart” meters include billing errors, cybersecurity risks, explosions, fires (see 1, 2, 3, 4), harmful radiation emissions, higher bills, installation mishaps, mechanical issues, and short lifespans. Proponents insist that “smart” meters are essential for “energy efficiency” despite research that has proven otherwise (see 1, 2). Documented issues have led to lawsuits (see 1, 2) and inspired a documentary film.
Activist Post reports regularly about “smart” meters and other privacy invasive and unsafe technology. For more information, visit our archives and the following websites:
- Stop Smart Meters UK
- Coalition to Stop Smart Meters
- Stop Smart Meters.org
- Smart Meter Harm
- Smart Grid Awareness
- Take Back Your Power
- Environmental Health Trust
- Physicians for Safe Technology
- Wireless Information Network
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