The word “privacy” appears not once, in a 1,500-word request for public comment on the smart grid, released by the White House this week.
That’s because your individual privacy is the obstacle that the government, aided by the utility companies, hopes to overcome with so-called smart meters — devices that will reveal precisely how you are using the electricity you paid for.
Research into the smart grid, which includes the use of smart meters, has been paid for by hundreds of millions of your tax dollars.
So far, the only discernible benefits of the smart meters will go to the utility companies and government investigators. (No potential savings for consumers have been demonstrated.)
One question from the Office of Science and Technology does glance on the privacy issue:
“Who owns the home energy usage data? Should individual consumers and their authorized third-party service providers have the right to access energy usage data directly from the meter?”
Obviously, individual consumers own the juice they pay for, not the utilities. Therefore, they should own the data on where it goes on their property, be it to their electric heaters or marijuana grow bulbs.
But if the government was truly concerned about individual privacy, the same question would read:
“Should individual consumers *OR* their authorized third-party service providers have the right to access energy usage data directly from the meter?”
I believe the question is not written that way because the utility companies — just like the phone companies and ISPs — are not on the consumer’s side. Rather, they have a track record of collaborating with the authorities in their investigations of “suspicious behavior,” which typically means using a lot of electricity.