Readers Write: PSEG LI Smart Meters a threat to privacy

0
2008

We would do well to educate our local county and city representatives to educate them and update them on all the issues and concerns and ask them to ban the installation in our local communities as has been done in 47 places so far in California.  

There are presently pilot programs of “Smart Meters” which have been installed by PSEG-LINY in Hauppauge, Bethpage and Fire Island – without the homeowners realizing what they are exposing themselves to.

“Smart Meters” violate the law and cause endangerment to residents by the following factors: 

1. They individually identify electrical devices inside the home and record when they are operated, thereby constituting invasion of privacy.

2. They monitor household activity and occupancy in violation of personal rights and domestic security.  

3. They transmit wireless signals which may be intercepted by unauthorized and unknown parties. Those signals can be used to monitor behavior and occupancy and they can be used by criminals to aid criminal activity against the occupants.

4. Data about occupant’s daily habits and activities are collected, recorded and stored in permanent databases which are accessed by parties not authorized or invited to know and share that private data relevant to those whose activities were recorded.

5. Those with access to the smart meter databases can review a permanent history of household activities complete with calendar and time-of-day metrics to gain a highly invasive and detailed view of the lives of the occupants. 

6. Those databases may be shared with, or fall into the hands of criminals, blackmailers, corrupt law enforcement, private hackers of wireless transmissions, power company employees, and other unidentified parties who may act against the interests of the occupants under metered surveillance.

7. “Smart Meters” are, by definition, surveillance devices which violate federal and state wiretapping laws by recording and storing databases of private and personal activities and behaviors without the consent or knowledge of those people who are monitored.

8. It is possible for example, with analysis of certain “Smart Meter” data, for unauthorized and distant parties to determine medical conditions, sexual activities, and physical locations of persons within the home, vacancy patterns and personal information and habits of the occupants.

9. Your company has not adequately disclosed the particular recording and transmission capabilities of the smart meter, or the extent of the data that will be recorded, stored and shared, or the purposes for which the data will and will not be used.

10.  Electromagnetic and radio frequency energy contamination from smart meters exceeds allowable safe and healthful limits for domestic environments as determined by the EPA and other scientific programs.

11.  Smart meters can be hacked and will be hacked.  The small CPU in these meters cannot protect itself as well as a home PC can, and home PCs are well known for being compromised.  By deploying these in the millions with the same exact software and hardware, they become a huge target and will endanger the community if an attacker can switch the power on and off from remote en masse.  This makes these Smart Meters dangerous and a liability to the ratepayers who would have to ultimately pay for any damage.

12.  Smart meters are not protected from Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) attacks, large EMPs or localized EMPs as simple as can be created by a child with a battery and a coil.

13.  Disabling the receiver will not prevent other forms of “hacks”.  For example, a malicious attacker could confuse the internal CPU, reset it, change random memory locations, change the KWH reading, force a power disconnect, or completely disable a smart meter with a simple coil of wire and a small battery.  This can’t happen with a mechanical meter.  It is well known that a wide EMP can take out car computers; smart meters will now make that possible on area-wide electric infrastructure.

14.  A thief or burglar could employ the same EMP or hacking methods to turn off the house power even if the electrical switch box is locked.

15.  Encryption of data is irrelevant due to well known “Tempest” attacks; see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TEMPEST where an attacker monitors internal electrical switching signals of a CPU or other internal components from a distance.  Governments have developed standards covering this.  Compromising emanations are defined as unintentional intelligence-bearing signals which, if intercepted and analyzed, may disclose the information transmitted, received, handled, or otherwise processed by any information-processing equipment, as in Smart Meters.  This would violate customers’ privacy and any privacy policy the power company has at this time.

16.  Turning off the RF transmitter is irrelevant due to the well-known “Tempest” attacks, the RF wireless transmitter is not needed in these attacks and disabling the RF transmitter completely negates any advantages of these Smart Meters or their costs.

17.  Data about an occupant’s daily habits and activities are collected, recorded and stored in permanent databases which can be accessed by parties not authorized or invited to know and share that private data by those whose activities were recorded.  This can be done by cyber-attacks or disgruntled employees, and has been done before where the attacked company may not know of the intrusion for months.

18.  The power company has not adequately disclosed the encryption or security methods to the public.  The source code to any data encryption must be open-source and peer-reviewed by the security community at large in order to be as secure as is currently possible.  Security by obscurity is no security at all.

19.  Previously it was “fair” that the power company had to go to a lot of trouble to adjust the mechanical meter to read more than it should since they had to come out to its physical location to do it manually.  People can’t modify the mechanical meter because it’s locked up; the power company probably won’t do it because it’s just too costly, and that was “fair enough”.  With the smart meters they can change it anytime they wish by remote command and with little risk that the customer will know.  Why should customers trust a company that only has profits and stock price in mind?  With possible remote modification of computer code or measurement values/ratios, who will oversee them? Who will ever know? This is an unfair practice and a liability to the ratepayers.

20.  The power company has misled the public and the Public Utility Commission by leaving out publicly available facts and information regarding smart meters.  There are many downsides to this new technology that the power company has not presented to the general public or the Public Utility Commission.  Information is slanted and doesn’t fully address the negative issues.

21.  Smart meter installation is not mandatory.  The Public Service Commission only gave permission to install the meters. There is no forced mandate. The PSC has no such delegated authority from the people to make a forced mandate.  If they did make a forced mandate, it’s clearly null and void on its face.  The Energy Policy Act of 2005 really only covers federal areas within the limited jurisdiction of the constitutionally limited United States government.  Even if it did apply, it also only mandates that a power company “offer” smart meters to the public, upon customer request.  Any suggestion by the power company to customers that smart meters are mandatory is a false statement, fraudulent, and false commercial speech which is punishable by law and also opens the power company to liability via lawsuit.

22.  The power company has no delegated authority from the People to install a security-risking, privacy-invading, health-threatening, hackable, unfair-billing, or wide-power-grid-security-threatening device on anyone’s property.

 23.  Smart meters by default are not programmed to “run backwards” like the current mechanical meters do now.  Making it harder for people to go “green” with solar panels or wind turbines using a low cost Grid Tie Inverter.  The PSC has repeatedly shown the intent of encouraging the public to go “green” – the power company’s website and public disclosures show intent in this direction. The PSC allows the power company to charge an extra fee for “green projects.”   Smart meters go against the PSC’s intent and the public interest by making it more difficult for people to install small solar or “green power” installations and gain KWH “credits” in power that they can use at a later time.

 24.  It is well known to electronic and computer engineers that a high voltage spike, such as a nearby lightning strike, or EMP can change memory bits in normal memory or EEPROM memory (Electronically Programmable Memory that is non-volatile) by adding extra electrons to the small memory cells.  This can change internal smart meter settings like the KWH calibration data or other settings that may change the rate of power charged without the customer or power company ever knowing about it.  This can’t happen with a mechanical meter.

 25.  Installation of a smart meter will lower this property’s value due to all the stated issues and controversy.  This could subject all the ratepayers to higher rates due to lawsuit claims for value lost.  

The power company has no delegated authority from the People to use its easement or install equipment in a way that will lower property values or make a property less desirable to a buyer. 

Rosanne Spinner

New Hyde Park

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