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Smart Meter Data: Privacy and Cybersecurity – Congressional Research Report 2012

By Catherine J. Frompovich

In Feb of 2012, 3 attorneys with the Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a extensive report “Smart Meter Data: Privacy and Cybersecurity,” which addressed many of the same questions consumers have about those high-tech focus meters being forced on to customers’ electric, healthy gas and water focus services in every state and globally.  I’ve review the whole report and consider consumers ought to know the some-more poignant tools and information per your rights to remoteness and security.

The CRS is a supervision organisation fundamentally providing credentials information about certain issues or topics members of Congress or congressional committees wish to know some-more about.

Nothing is a “hot button” remoteness and health issue some-more than AMI Smart Meters, which are retrofitted in place of stable analog meters that have been in model use for decades.  The new AMI SMs have one advantage over the stable analog meters, which substantially appeals to the United Nations: AMI SMs spy on the occupants inside the homes to which AMI SMs are retrofitted.  Those personal rights violations are genuine and should be of current courtesy to consumers who know their U.S. Constitutional and State Constitutional rights are being disregarded and abrogated.


Apparently, those same issues may have been on the minds of some members of Congress, therefore, the ask for a Privacy and Cybersecurity Report.

In the Summary of that report, we find

Fueled by impulse appropriation in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), electric utilities have accelerated their deployment of smart meters to millions of homes opposite the United States with help from the Department of Energy’s Smart Grid Investment Grant program. As the meters multiply, so do issues concerning the remoteness and confidence of the information collected by the new technology. This Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) promises to boost appetite efficiency, accelerate electric appetite grid reliability, and promote direct response, among other benefits. However, to perform these ends, smart meters must record near-real time information on consumer electricity use and broadcast the information to utilities over good distances around communications networks that offer the smart grid. Detailed electricity use information offers a window into the lives of people inside of a home by divulgence what sold appliances they are using, and the delivery of the information potentially subjects this information to interception or burglary by unapproved third parties or hackers. [CJF emphasis]

Rather nonchalantly, in this writer’s opinion, the Report’s authors concede:

Unforeseen consequences under sovereign law may outcome from the designation of smart meters and the communications technologies that accompany them. This report examines sovereign remoteness and cybersecurity laws that may request to consumer information collected by residential smart meters. It starts with an hearing of the inherent supplies in the Fourth Amendment that may request to the data. As we swell into the 21st century, entrance to personal data, including information generated from smart meters, is a new limit for police investigations. The Fourth Amendment generally requires police to have illusive means to hunt an area in which a person has a reasonable expectancy of privacy. However, courts have used the third-party doctrine to repudiate insurance to information a patron gives to a business as partial of their blurb relationship. This order is used by police to entrance bank records, write records, and normal focus records. Nevertheless, there are several core differences between smart meters and the ubiquitous third-party cases that may means concerns about its application. These embody concerns voiced by the courts and Congress about the ability of record to potentially erode individuals’ privacy.

If smart scale information and transmissions tumble outward of the insurance of the Fourth Amendment, they may still be stable from unapproved avowal or entrance under the Stored Communications Act (SCA), the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). These statutes, however, would seem to assent law coercion to entrance smart scale information for inquisitive functions under procedures supposing in the SCA, ECPA, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), theme to certain conditions. Additionally, an electric utility’s remoteness and confidence practices with courtesy to consumer information may be theme to Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act). The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently focused its consumer insurance coercion on entities that violate their remoteness policies or destroy to strengthen information from unapproved access. This management could request to electric utilities in possession of smart scale data, supposing that the FTC has orthodox office over them. General sovereign remoteness safeguards supposing under the Federal Privacy Act of 1974 (FPA) strengthen smart scale information confirmed by sovereign agencies, including information held by federally owned electric utilities. [CJF emphasis]

How come state open focus commissions, their kangaroo courts and focus companies’ attorneys aren’t held accountable to the legitimate earnest of the above inherent issues, let alone the sharpening adverse health effects from AMI Smart Meter radiofrequencies non-thermal deviation waves that now scientifically have been proven to mangle DNA bonds?

On page 2 of that Report, the CRS lawyers say,

General sovereign remoteness safeguards supposing under the Federal Privacy Act of 1974 (FPA) strengthen smart scale information confirmed by sovereign agencies, including information held by federally owned electric utilities. Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act) allows the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to bring coercion record against electric utilities that violate their remoteness policies or destroy to strengthen scale information from unapproved access, supposing that the FTC has orthodox office over the utilities.

It is misleading how Fourth Amendment insurance from irrational hunt and seizures would request to smart scale data, due to the miss of cases on this issue. However, depending on the demeanour in which smart scale services are presented to consumers, smart scale information may be protected from unapproved avowal or unapproved entrance under the Stored Communications Act (SCA), the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). If smart scale information is stable by these statutes, law coercion would still seem to have the ability to entrance it for inquisitive functions under procedures supposing in the SCA, ECPA, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). [CJF emphasis]

Page 3 addresses Smart Meter Data: Privacy and Security Concerns

Residential smart meters benefaction remoteness and cybersecurity issues 19 that are likely to develop with the technology.20 In 2010, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published a report identifying some of these issues, which tumble into two categorical categories: (1) privacy concerns that smart meters will exhibit the activities of people inside of a home by measuring their electricity use frequently over time;21and (2) fears that unsound cybersecurity measures surrounding the digital delivery of smart scale information will display it to injustice by certified and unapproved users of the data. [CJF emphasis]

While addressing specific details, the Report claims

Smart meters offer a significantly some-more minute painting of a consumer’s appetite use than unchanging meters. Traditional meters display information on a consumer’s sum electricity use and are typically review manually once per month.23

In contrast, smart meters can yield nearby real-time use information by measuring use electronically at a much larger frequency, such as once every 15 minutes.24

Current smart scale record allows utilities to magnitude use as frequently as once every minute.25

By examining smart scale data, it is probable to brand which appliances a consumer is using and at what times of the day, given any form of apparatus generates a singular electric bucket “signature.26  [which will tie into the Internet of Things.]

NIST wrote in 2010 that ““research shows that analyzing 15-minute interlude total domicile appetite expenditure information can by itself pinpoint the use of many major home appliances.”” 27

A report for the Colorado Public Utilities Commission discussed an Italian study that used “artificial neural networks” to brand sold “heavy-load apparatus uses” with 90% correctness using 15-minute interlude information from a smart meter.28

Similarly, software-based algorithms would likely concede a person to remove the singular signatures of sold appliances from scale information that has been collected reduction frequently and is therefore reduction detailed.29   [One algorithm program is “ONZO” (2).]

By mixing apparatus use patterns, an spectator could discern the function of occupants in a home over a duration of time.30 For example, the information could show possibly a chateau is occupied, how many people live in it, and possibly it is “occupied by some-more people than usual.”31

According to the Department of Energy, smart meters may be means to exhibit occupants’ “daily schedules (including times when they are at or divided from home or asleep), possibly their homes are versed with alarm systems, possibly they own costly electronic apparatus such as plasma TVs, and possibly they use certain forms of medical equipment.”32

Figure 1, which appears in NIST’s report on smart grid cybersecurity, shows how smart scale information could be used to interpret the activities of a home’s occupants by relating information on their electricity use with famous apparatus bucket signatures. [CJF emphasis]

Here is the partial about AMI SMs that really needs to be accepted and factored in to the privacy and confidence model the x-ray industry, focus companies and even state open focus commissions, which should know better, are not profitable courtesy to nor traffic with: Potential for Theft or Breach of Data, like we had with the Equifax information crack inspiring about half of the country’s consumers.

Increased Potential for Theft or Breach of Data

Smart grid record relies heavily on two-way communication to boost appetite potency and reliability, including communication between smart meters and the focus (or other entity) that stores information for the grid.46 Many opposite technologies will broadcast information to the grid, including ““traditional twisted-copper phone lines, wire lines, fiber ocular cable, cellular, satellite, microwave, WiMAX, appetite line carrier, and broadband over appetite line.””47 Of these communications platforms, wireless technologies are likely to play a ““prominent role”” given they benefaction fewer reserve concerns and cost reduction to exercise than wireline technologies.48 According to the Department of Energy, a standard focus network has 4 “tiers”” that collect and broadcast information from the consumer to the utility.49 These embody “(1) the core backbone—the primary trail to the focus information center; (2) backhaul distribution—the assembly indicate for area data; (3) the entrance point—typically the smart meter; and, (4) the HAN—the home network.”50 Energy use information moves from the smart meter,51 and then to an “aggregation point” outward of the chateau such as “a substation, a focus pole-mounted device, or a communications tower.””52  [CJF emphasis]

Two U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Kyllo v United States [1] and United States v Karo, have shielded “the home as a dedicated site at the core of the Fourth Amendment.”

Kyllo and Karo denote that the Supreme Court “has shielded the home as a dedicated site at the ‘core of the Fourth Amendment.’””169 Although and the Supreme Court nor any reduce sovereign justice has ruled on the use of smart meters, a few propositions can be deduced from Kyllo and Karo temperament on this question. Because smart meters concede law coercion to entrance information per insinuate sum occurring inside the home, a rarely invasive review that could not differently be achieved but penetration into the home, a justice may need a aver to entrance this data. In Kyllo, the police merely obtained the relations temperatures of a house,170 and in Karo the police only generally located the beeper in the house.171 Although this information was limited, the Court nonetheless taboo such investigatory techniques. Smart meters have the intensity to furnish significantly some-more information than that subsequent in Kyllo and Karo, including what sold appliances we are using; possibly the chateau is dull or occupied; and when we take the daily showering or bath.172 Further, a demeanour at Figure 1, supra, creates it transparent that this turn of information is much some-more insinuate than before technologies used by law enforcement. This abyss of penetration suggests that business may have a reasonable expectancy of remoteness in smart scale data. [CJF emphasis]

The CRS lawyers suspicion there is/was Statutory Protection of Smart Meter Data!

Question: Which law school courses did they take that focus company lawyers and open focus commissions judges somehow missed during law school?

This territory discusses federal orthodox protections that may be germane to the essence of communications sent by a smart meter, eccentric of the Fourth Amendment, while they are possibly stored within the smart scale before to transmission, during transmission, or after they have been delivered to the utility. Three sovereign laws, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA),199 the Stored Communications Act (SCA),200 and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)201 may be germane to these situations and are discussed in some-more fact below. [CJF emphasis]

How come open focus elect executive law judges don’t commend those sovereign laws, make them from the dais and in their decisions by automatically government in preference of consumers who reject AMI SMs?  Good question?

Since AMI SMs fundamentally are worldly computers that will have to be transposed every 5 to 6 years with updated meters, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act may be practical to AMI SMs remoteness issues:

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) prohibits intentionally accessing and receiving information from a mechanism used in or inspiring widespread commerce, but authorisation or in additional of a postulated authorization.246 The clarification of a mechanism for functions of the CFAA is “an electronic, magnetic, optical, electrochemical, or other high speed information estimate device behaving logical, arithmetic, or storage functions, and includes any information storage trickery or communications trickery directly associated to or handling in and with such device” incompatible “an programmed typewriter or typesetter, a portable palm held calculator, or other identical device….””247

The servers on a utility’s network would likely tumble precisely within the clarification of a mechanism under the CFAA. Similarly, smart meters themselves also seem to meet the clarification of a computer, insofar as they store customers’ appetite use information and also perform judicious operations by routing transmissions opposite the utility’s network. Additionally, in light of the poignant role that appetite utilities play in the complicated economy, the smart scale network would also likely be deliberate to have an outcome on widespread commerce, even if they work wholly within one state. Therefore, intentionally gaining entrance to the utility’s servers or smart meters to obtain patron information would likely consecrate a defilement of the CFAA if finished but the utility’s authorisation or in additional of an authorisation postulated by the utility. [CJF emphasis]

Here’s a nice part about the CFAA: the fines, which should be inducement adequate for everybody to file complaints against focus companies with their state Attorney General or state open focus commission:

The rapist penalties for violating the unapproved entrance supplies of the CFAA have a 3 tier sentencing structure. Simple violations are punished as misdemeanors, seizure for not some-more than one year and/or a excellent of not some-more than $100,000 ($200,000 for organizations).248

Another law that comes into play is Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.

Section 5 of the FTC Act prohibits “unfair or false acts or practices in or inspiring commerce”251 and gives the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) office to bring coercion actions against “persons, partnerships, or corporations” that rivet in these practices.252 In the past, the FTC has used its management under Section 5 to take movement against businesses that violate their own remoteness policies or that fail to sufficient guarantee a consumer’s personal information.253 Although there do not seem to be any cases in which the FTC has taken movement against an electric focus for unwell to strengthen consumer smart scale data, the Commission would have management to make Section 5 against a focus that fell within its orthodox jurisdiction.

On page 40 of the Report, the lawyers discuss another issue that can be relevant:

“Unfair” Failure to Secure Consumer Data

Failure to Protect Against Common Technology Threats or Unauthorized Access

The FTC may consider it an “unfair” use when an electric focus fails to guarantee smart scale information from obvious record threats as the information travels opposite the utility’s communications networks. [CJF emphasis]

Furthermore and even some-more importantly, all parties concerned in the AMI SM authorised debacles must comprehend what the CRS lawyers have to contend about AMI SM information protection:

Smart Meter Data as a Protected “Record”

The Privacy Act protects the form of electricity use information collected by smart meters, supposing that the information pertains to U.S. adults or permanent residents, is privately identifiable, and is retrievable by the individual’s name or another personal identifier. The Privacy Act “governs the collection, use, and distribution of a ‘record’ about an ‘individual’ confirmed by sovereign agencies in a ‘system of records.’””368 Under the statute, a “record” is “any item, collection, or organisation of information about an sold that is confirmed by an organisation … that contains his name, or the identifying number, symbol, or other identifying sold reserved to the individual, such as a finger or voice imitation or a photograph.””369

An “individual” is tangible as “a citizen of the United States or an visitor rightly certified for permanent residence.””370 A “system of records” is “a organisation of any annals under the control of any organisation from which information is retrieved by the name of the individual” or other personal identifier “assigned to the individual.”371

Smart scale information held by an organisation positively fits within the extended clarification of a “record” given it is a organisation of information about an individual, namely, information on that individual’s electricity usage. The information is typically stored along with a consumer’s comment information, which customarily includes a consumer’s name, social confidence number, or other “identifying particular.”372 Thus, smart scale information would consecrate a stable “record” under the Privacy Act, assuming that it pertains to a citizen of the United States or official permanent proprietor and is retrievable by a personal identifier such as a consumer’s name or comment number. [CJF emphasis]

All the above only confirms because The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-58) Section 1252 Smart Metering does not charge or make AMI Smart Meters mandatory.  That would be unconstitutional, nonetheless open focus commissions don’t honour the inaugural law of the land, the U.S. Constitution.

Apparently, there is a duplicate of a Member of Congress minute present on the Internet wherein that Congressperson says “As you may know, supplies within the 2005 Energy Policy Act concede for consumers to opt out of smart scale programs that are run at the state level.”

This Writer’s Comment:

Since the Equifax credit business hacking ‘tragedy’, and other countless privacy, confidence and temperament burglary problems with computers, credit label companies and companies that conduct them, one would consider state agencies, in particular, should be dynamic to strengthen consumers’ inherent rights to remoteness and personal data, and not yield opportunities for personal information to be compromised from cyberattacks, generally given focus companies really will not be promulgation consumers’ information over secure networks!


[1] https://www.casebriefs.com/blog/law/criminal-procedure/criminal-procedure-keyed-to-weinreb/electronic-surveillance-agents-and-informers-and-entrapment/kyllo-v-united-states-4/
[2] http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/onzo-announces-major-enhancements-to-customer-insights-data-analytics-solution-568136871.html

Catherine J Frompovich (website) is a retired healthy nutritionist who warranted modernized degrees in Nutrition and Holistic Health Sciences, Certification in Orthomolecular Theory and Practice and Paralegal Studies. Her work has been published in inhabitant and airline magazines given the early 1980s. Catherine authored countless books on health issues along with co-authoring papers and monographs with physicians, nurses, and holistic medical professionals. She has been a consumer medical researcher 35 years and counting.

Catherine’s latest book, published Oct 4, 2013, is Vaccination Voodoo, What YOU Don’t Know About Vaccines, accessible on Amazon.com.

Her 2012 book A Cancer Answer, Holistic BREAST Cancer Management, A Guide to Effective Non-Toxic Treatments, is accessible on Amazon.com and as a Kindle eBook.

Two of Catherine’s some-more new books on Amazon.com are Our Chemical Lives And The Hijacking Of Our DNA, A Probe Into What’s Probably Making Us Sick (2009) and Lord, How Can we Make It Through Grieving My Loss, An Inspirational Guide Through the Grieving Process (2008)

Catherine’s NEW book: Eat To Beat Disease, Foods Medicinal Qualities ©2016 Catherine J Frompovich is now available

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