Is Big Brother Watching Your Refrigerator?

Is Big Brother in your new Smart Meter?

Dear Consumer Advisor,
Since my smart meter was put in I’ve got the uncomfortable feeling that big brother is watching me. The meter puts all sorts of information about me online, and I’m not sure who else can get that information or how my utility company can use it. PG&E said the meter would help me save energy but my rates seemed to have gone up, not down. Is that because of the meter? I’ve heard they are not accurate and I’m …



Dear Apprehensive,
You are right to be concerned about the personal information your smart meter is transmitting. That information is yours, and should not be misused by your utility company or anyone else. That’s why TURN has demanded, and won, new privacy protections for smart meter customers.

While data transmitted electronically is obviously more vulnerable to hacking and misuse, there are some ways we can protect ourselves. At the urging of TURN and our allies, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently adopted new rules that forbid the release of your smart meter information to third parties without your express authorization.

Under the new rules, your utility company can’t share your information with marketers without your permission. As far as government agencies and law enforcement go, existing rules require them to get a warrant before your utility can give them information about you. These protections should alleviate some of your fears about big brother monitoring your everyday activities. Be sure to read any authorizations for release of your data very, very carefully before singing.