As the British government controversially moves ahead with its plan to introduce 53 million electricity and gas ‘smart meters’ across the UK by 2019, more than a million have already been deployed in the UK, which is beginning to raise privacy concerns.
Smart meters monitor energy consumption and communicate wirelessly with energy providers. In 2009 a European Commission Directive made it a requirement that 80% of European homes have a smart meters installed by 2020.
There are also plans to introduce smart water meters.
Smart meters replace analog meters and are designed to send utility use in real time. They essentially create a home network which collects sensitive personal information, including what devices are being used, when and how they are being used by communicating with appliances, even if they are not ‘smart’ devices, and then send that data back to energy providers.
Besides the invasive nature of the meters, campaigners also fear that energy companies can control energy consumption and remotely switch off utilities. In fact, anybody with an Internet connection and the technical know-how can do so.
Speaking on BCFM drive time, Mike Mitcham of the Stop Smart Meters campaign, cited a recent case where hackers in Germany proved the security of smart meters to be incredibly poor, allowing them to can record information what about which TV programme or film someone is watching on a non-smart television.
“This is basically putting our energy and utility supply onto the Internet.”
The data is sent through pulsed microwaves, including 3G and 4G networks and the potential health hazards of sending thousands of pulses per day has been ignored.
Also on the show, David Saunders of Bristol Power, a former industrial chemist who defended the use of smart meters, did however agree that the campaign against smart meters do have a valid point, in some cases.
“I don’t disagree with any argument about pollution. I know about industrial chemicals in our foods and they contribute to cancer just as much as microwave radiation.”
He maintains that smart meters could be used to undermine the energy cartel through the use of solar power, but conceded that in the wrong hands the technology could become Orwellian.
Speaking to RINF, show host Tony Gosling said:
“Smart meters are being introduced in an unregulated free-for all so it’s up to all of us to be vigilant to check whether they are both safe and good for society – Smart Meters fail on almost every count – just as the police and regulators have failed to prosecute any of the Big Six energy companies for defrauding the public of millions of pounds.”