Farfetched as it seems, smart meters can give away an enormous amount of information about customers, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) wants it. Federal immigration authorities are taking advantage of a loophole in California’s privacy law to spy on consumers through their electric meters in contravention of our state’s policy of non-cooperation with ICE, which was recently affirmed by the US Supreme Court
Help us close that loophole so that immigrant communities receive the same data protections as other customers and utility companies are not forced to hand over customers’ private information to ICE. Tell your state Senator to VOTE YES on AB 2788 (Gloria, D-San Diego)
Learn More: Questions and Answers on ICE smart meter spying
How Much Do Smart Meters Know?
Smart meters typically take hourly recordings of electric usage. This data could be used to determine where a person lives, the number of people in a household, and their daily comings and goings.
Why Is This Dangerous?
Undocumented immigrants are especially vulnerable to these disclosures, since through them ICE can learn a person’s typical routine and learn more about everyone in their household.
Disclosure reports from large energy utilities have shown disturbing trends in the release of private data by utility companies. ICE has been demanding thousands of customers’ private information and has been able to obtain it without a judicial warrant. Strengthening privacy protections for smart meter data builds on California’s commitment to protecting our immigrant communities.
Is ICE using smart meter data to spy on Californians?
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) a single utility, San Diego Gas & Electric, received the largest number of demands by far and handed over the records of 4,062 customers in a single year.
Isn’t smart meter data protected?
Yes, but ICE has been able to exploit a loophole in the law. Despite California’s privacy protections, existing law allows ICE to issue its own administrative subpoenas to gain access to utility data without either a judicial or court order subpoena, a much higher bar.
Passage of AB 2788 would prohibit an electrical corporation, gas corporation, or local publicly owned electric utility from sharing, disclosing, or otherwise making accessible to any immigration authority a customer’s electrical or gas consumption data without a court-ordered subpoena or judicial warrant.