US Government “Searches” Conducted Using Smart Meters Considered “Reasonable” by Industry Proponents

Government “Searches” Conducted Using Smart Meters Considered “Reas...

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

https://smartgridawareness.org/2017/06/04/government-searches-using...

A shocking court filing by industry and smart meter proponents reveals the degree to which corporate and government interests will go to get these privacy-invading devices on our homes.

In the case of Naperville Smart Meter Awareness, v. City of Naperville, an amici curiae brief was recently filed by the American Public Power Association (APPA), Edison Electric Institute (EEI), and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). [1]

In that legal brief [1], smart meter proponents state that:

“A smart meter is not an ‘unreasonable’ search, but is a very reasonable means of advancing significant government interests.”

“The reasonableness of a search under the Fourth Amendment is determined by balancing its intrusion on the individual’s Fourth Amendment interests against its promotion of legitimate government interests.”

So what the parties of APPA, EEI, and NRECA are saying is that whatever government bureaucrats in collusion with their corporate partners determine to be a “means of advancing significant government interests” or the “promotion of legitimate government interests,” [emphasis added], then that justifies you forgoing your constitutional right to privacy.

The above referenced amici curiae brief reminds me of the conclusions of a published paper I highlighted at this website last year claiming that ‘Smart’ Meters Represent Industrial Profiteering and Government San.... [2] [3]  Let’s review a few selected quotations from that published paper [2]:

“Technology developments have broad applications and implications, but the smart energy grid that is being implemented across the United States and Canada, like the worldwide web, we argue, is being appropriated as part of a design to draw upon higher level data from dwellers (as surplus value) in the service of industrial profiteering and in the surveillance interests of industry and the state.”

“The consumer’s use value of electricity consumption is thus being transformed into exchange value, as well as creating new forms of social monitoring and control by agencies of government, and of violations of constitutional protections under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Section 8 of the Canadian charter of rights and Freedoms.”

“If corporate intrusion on household electrical usage obliterates the Fourth Amendment, it might also be construed as obliterating the First Amendment, inasmuch as the bill of rights not only guarantees the right to speak, but also, as the Supreme court has ruled, the (negative) right not to speak.” 

“It is not merely the specific uses of electricity that one is entitled to keep private.  Home electrical use is merely the consumptive practice of everyday life.  What is more invasive about smart panoptic metering is the mode of networked regulation that a corporate entity, backed by a corporate state, seeks to impose upon the habits of the people — a future not only without privacy, but with radically reduced freedom of thought and action.”

Thus we see that governments and corporations in their haste to invoke new methods of social monitoring and control of consumers as well as industrial profiteering from data mining, they will simply declare that there are significant government interests to be advanced through smart metering.  At that point it is further declared that you no longer have a “reasonable” expectation of privacy in your own home (or possibly even freedom of thought and action) because of those government interests.

Contrary to the claims of governments and corporations, Naperville Smart Meter Awareness (NSMA) has maintained that as a matter of law, NSMA members have a reasonable expectation of privacy for data acquired from inside their homes.  Utility smart meters collect detailed electricity usage data that can reveal intimate information about residents’ personal lives.  Warrantless collection of smart meter data (beyond that necessary for the basic delivery of electric service) without consent is an illegal and unreasonable “search,” regardless of whether or how that data is later analyzed or used. [4]

References

[1] Amici Curiae Brief Filed in Support of the City of Naperville by the American Public Power Association (APPA), Edison Electric Institute (EEI), and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), May 19, 2017, available at https://skyvisionsolutions.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/appa-eei-and...

[2] “The Neoliberal Politics of ‘Smart’: Electricity Consumption, Household Monitoring, and the Enterprise Form,” by Anthony M. Levenda, Dillon Mahmoudi, Gerald Sussman, all from Portland State University; Canadian Journal of Communication, volume 40 (4), November 2015.  Complete article available for review at: http://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/usp_fac/116/

[3] “Smart Meters Represent Industrial Profiteering and Government Sanctioned Surveillance, According to Study,” SkyVision Solutions Blog Article, January 2016, at https://smartgridawareness.org/2016/01/11/industrial-profiteering-a...

[4] Naperville Smart Meter Awareness Group Appeals to Higher Court on Fourth Amendment Violations, SkyVision Solutions Blog Article, February 2017, at https://smartgridawareness.org/2017/02/22/naperville-group-appeals-...

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Raising public awareness and finding solutions for smart grid issues related to invasions of privacy, data security, cyber threats, health and societal impacts, as well as hazards related to radiofrequency (RF) radiation emissions from all wireless devices, including smart meters.

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