The Law is Clear: Details of the Home Are Entitled to the Utmost Fourth Amendment Protection

Invasion of Privacy with SM and LogoA Press Release from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF):

An Illinois Court Just Didn’t Get It: We Are Entitled to Expect Privacy In Our Smart Meter Data, Which Reveals What’s Going On Inside Our Homes

March 1, 2017 | By Karen Gullo and Jamie Williams

Cities across the country are switching to wireless smart meters.  You may even have one in your home.  Utility companies say the new technology helps consumers monitor their energy use and potentially save money.  But smart meters also reveals intimate details about what’s going on inside the home.  By collecting energy use data at high frequencies—typically every 5, 15, or 30 minutes—smart meters know exactly how much electricity is being used, and when.  Patterns in your smart meter data can reveal when you are home, when you are sleeping, when you take a shower, and even whether you cook dinner on the stove or in the microwave.  These are all private details about what’s going on inside your home—details that should be clearly within the bounds of Fourth Amendment protection.

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Advocacy Groups Raise Concerns about Privacy Implications of Smart Meter Data in Newly Filed Brief

PRESS RELEASE (February 28, 2017):  Privacy International & the Electronic Frontier Foundation Raise Concerns about Privacy Implications of Smart Meter Data In Newly Filed Brief Continue reading

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Privacy Advocacy Groups Submit Amicus Brief Opposing Smart Meter Fourth Amendment Violations

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

Amicus CuriaeLast week I posted an article describing how the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group (NSMA) had filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit requesting a reversal of a lower court dismissal of its alleged Fourth Amendment violation claims. [1] [2]

This week two privacy advocacy groups, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Privacy International, jointly filed a motion with the Court to file an attached amicus brief in support of NSMA on the smart meter-related case. [3]

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Smart Meter Data Analysis Enables Consumer Profiling with “Alarmingly High Accuracy”

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

smart-meter-privacy-alert-clipartFrom a recent peer-reviewed industry article [1], here is what is stated about the issue of privacy and smart meters for the “end user” of electricity:

“Conventional meters were only capable of measuring and displaying the aggregate consumption. The data was collected manually in intervals defined by utility company for billing.  Smart meters however, are capable of collecting information with higher frequencies, i.e., every 15 min.  Initial AMI deployed projects in Ontario, Canada, sustain readings at intervals of 5 to 60 min.  Current technologies even allow for measurements every minute.  By analyzing smart meter’s data, it is possible to perform ‘consumer profiling’ with an alarmingly high accuracy.  Examples range from how many people live in the house, duration of occupancy, type of appliances, security and alarming systems, to inferring special conditions such as medical emergencies or [a] new born baby.

Profiling allows extracting residents’ behavior even without utilization of sophisticated algorithms and computer aided tools.  Murrill and colleagues have shown that it is possible to identify the use of major appliances in a house, by analyzing only a 15 min interval cumulative energy consumption data.  Molina-Markham et al. have shown that with the current general statistical schemes it is possible to identify the usage pattern from AMI data even without the detailed signatures of appliances or previous training.”

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Naperville Smart Meter Awareness Group Appeals to Higher Court on Fourth Amendment Violations

Court Gavelby K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

The Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group (NSMA) has filed its legal brief [1] with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit after a Federal District Court entered a final judgment against NSMA late last year.

Key Points Made in Appeal Brief

  • As a matter of law, NSMA members have a reasonable expectation of privacy for data acquired from inside their homes.  The Kyllo case, as precedent, held that because of the special sanctity of the home, residents automatically have a reasonable expectation of privacy in all material and data inside their home.  Yet the district court ignored this fundamental Fourth Amendment principle.
  • Utility “smart meters” collect detailed electricity usage data that can reveal intimate information about residents’ personal lives within their homes.
  • Warrantless collection of smart meter data (beyond that necessary for the basic delivery of electric service) without consent is an illegal “search,” regardless of whether or how that data is later analyzed or used.

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We’re Being “Hunted” by Smart Meters and the Internet of Things

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

were-being-hunted-by-smart-meters-and-iotBecause of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the deployment of devices like utility smart meters we are quickly losing our personal freedom and liberty and further heading toward Orwell’s 1984 [1].  For those aware of what is happening, we realize that “We’re being hunted,” and that, “We feel like prey.”  This process must be reversed if we are to regain our rights as a free people.

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Smart Meter Deployments Result in a Cyber Attack Surface of “Unprecedented Scale”

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

cyber-attack-surface-of-unprecedented-scaleThe Internet of Things (IoT) involves an Internet which will evolve from connecting just machines and people towards connecting “smart” objects and things.  The electric utility industry is currently developing an IoT-based smart grid (SG).  This SG is envisioned as the largest installation of an IoT network for our future world with literally billions of smart objects and things, such as smart meters, smart appliances, and other sensors [1].

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Smart Meters Force People to Reduce Consumption and Pay Higher Prices

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

smart-meters-raise-bills-and-force-reduced-consumptionI have previously written a number of articles demonstrating how smart meters are not economically justifiable for broad-based deployments and that the vast majority of consumers will suffer a financial “net loss” with smart meters. [1]  In particular, we have seen how families are punished by ‘Smart’ Meters and Time-of-Use (TOU) rates. [2]

A recent reminder of these facts came in the form of a November 2016 radio program from Australia, “Electric Shocks.” [3]  Continue reading

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Naperville Group Appeals Smart Meter Ruling to Higher Court

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

Court GavelIn the smart meter-related case of Naperville Smart Meter Awareness (NSMA) v. City of Naperville, a Federal district court entered a final judgment against NSMA and in favor of the City on September 26, 2016. (Case 1:11-cv-09299)

As outlined in a “docketing statement” filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the NSMA group has filed a notice of appeal as documented below:

“As set forth in its notice of appeal, NSMA seeks review of the district court’s order granting the City summary judgment, upon which the court entered final judgment in the City’s favor, as well as all opinions and orders antecedent and ancillary thereto.”

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Health Risks Associated with Smart Meter Wireless Emissions

bank-of-smart-meters-croppedby K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Article Key Points

  • There is a “reasonable basis” for concern regarding health risks associated with smart meter wireless emissions.
  • It is “unreasonable” to involuntarily and chronically expose consumers to the electromagnetic energy emitted by smart meters.

Over the past three years at this website I have detailed a number of concerns related to utility smart meters including financial costs, privacy invasions, cyber threats, and the increased risk of fires as compared with analog meters.  Another concern relates to health risks associated with wireless emissions.

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The Hype Surrounding 5G and Connecting “Everything” Wirelessly

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

the-hype-surrounding-5gThere has recently been a lot of hype surrounding the planned deployment of 5G wireless technologies in the United States and elsewhere.  5G is considered the next major phase of mobile telecommunications and is expected to be much faster than the currently deployed 3G and 4G communications networks [1].  More importantly, however, 5G is expected to extend far beyond people just communicating on their smartphones; it is planned to connect literally “everything” as part of the Internet of Things (IoT).

I have created a short video that highlights portions of a CTIA 5G Leadership Forum from February 2016 [2].  Continue reading

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Extension Likely Coming Soon for ComEd Customers ‘Deferring’ Smart Meter Installations

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

comed-ge-smart-meter-vs-analogWe have previously communicated through this website on how Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) customers are being mistreated by not having a permanent smart meter refusal option even though downstate Illinois customers of Ameren do have such an option [1].

Recently, a number of Chicago suburbs, including Burr Ridge, Lake Forest, and Lake Bluff, have formally requested that ComEd take action to work with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) and the Illinois General Assembly to amend its rules to allow for property owners to permanently refuse or “opt out” of its smart meter program [2].

In response to the increased public opposition to ComEd smart meters and its smart meter deferral program, ComEd completed a new filing with the ICC on August 29, 2016 [3].   This filing requests that the current sunset date for the smart meter deferral program be extended from December 31, 2019, to June 30, 2022Continue reading

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