A US JUDGE has ruled that any data collected by smart meters is protected by the Fourth Amendment, meaning any examination of that data constitutes a government search requirement.
For our UK readers, the Fourth Amendment is the one that prohibits unreasonable search or seizure. In short, the one that anti-NSA types are increasingly annoyed with.
Once again, it's not about the data itself, but rather what can be inferred from it. With Smart Home companies like Smappee using the "signature" of electronics to identify them, a government agent would have no difficulty in making educated inferences as to what is being used, how often and from there, make some contextual deductions as to why.
This is too much for privacy advocates, including the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), which has pushed the matter to the Seventh Circuit - not an aspect of hell per se, but rather a judge that can push the case just because you couldn't do something on an old style meter doesn't mean its still impossible on a smart meter.
EFF commented: "We applaud the Seventh Circuit for recognizing that smart meters pose serious risks to the privacy of all of our homes and that rotely applying analogue-era case law to the digital age simply doesn't work.
"We hope that courts around the country follow the Seventh Circuit in concluding that the Fourth Amendment protects smart meter data."
In the UK, this is one more legal oversight in a process that has not gone at all smoothly. The government hopes to switch everyone in the UK to a smart meter by 2020 at a cost £11bn, and yet many companies are still installing meters of an older standard, Smets1, which needs replacing as soon as the customer switches energy provider.
Smets2 meters are rolling out, slowly, in a lottery of when your supplier decides to do it. In many cases, smart meters simply don't work once installed due to topographic factors and 3G coverage.
Once that's sorted out, then we can start worrying about the fact they are a huge security risk. μ
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