New technology always brings new concerns. Here’s a case in point.
Electric utilities all over the country, such as New Hampshire Electric Cooperative, are installing “smart meters” in place of the old analog meters with little dials that had to be read once a month by some employee driving around from house to house. Among the things they do is measure electricity usage much more frequently, which helps utilities and users make intelligent decisions. They usually transmit their information through radio waves of some kind to cut down on labor costs of manually going to every house.
This has led to some pushback from people who are afraid either that the signals will Do Something Bad To Them, or that the information could be snagged out of the air and used by bad guys, presumably using fluctuations in power usage to tell when the house was empty and vulnerable to burglary.
An interesting challenge came up in Naperville, Ill, where a citizens group sued, saying the information which can be gleaned from smart meter data means it constituted an unreasonable search and a violation of the state’s constitution and the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The U.s. Court of Appeals rejected that argument, reports Utility Dive. I agree with the court – but you have to admit it’s an interesting argument.