[LINK] [EFA-Privacy] Smart meters back in the frame

Paul Brooks pbrooks at layer10.com.au
Mon Sep 7 23:06:30 AEST 2020

However, no smart meters transmit 15 second interval data. Pretty much all smartmeters I'm aware of in Australia and elsewhere have at minimum 30 minute intervals. 

There are certainly things you can determine with 30- minute data,  such as when your electric hot water service kicks in and off,   or when you're cooking a meal on an electric shove,  but there's no way they can tell if you have one inefficient fridge or three energy-efficient fridges for example. 

A few timers,  such as on a pool pump, creates natural variation.
30 minute intervals are long enough that an observer couldn't tell if you turned on a kettle or dishwasher in that interval. 
It could reveal if the whole family was away and when they came back, if you had a multi - day baseline to compare to. 

In any case,  this data is said to be anonimised and deidentified from the actual house - that is the aspect I'd like to see verified and done properly,   rather than focusing on the datalake itself. 

There are positive outcomes. A great deal of homes have inoperative solar panels, having no benefit, the owner unaware. If the energy network could alert these people 'hey... we haven't seen any feed-in energy from your house for a while,  you might want to get your solar checked ' would be a big help.

(Fwiw, I get 5-minute interval data, but not from a smartmeter. That *can* tell when inhabitants are rising and eating (toaster and kettle in the morning), but it doesn't come from a smartmeter)


-------- Original Message --------
From: Roger Clarke <Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au>
Sent: 7 September 2020 9:55:54 am AEST
To: link at mailman.anu.edu.au, Privacy List <privacy at lists.efa.org.au>
Subject: Re: [LINK] [EFA-Privacy] Smart meters back in the frame

G'day Jan

On 7/9/20 9:29 am, jwhit--- via Privacy wrote:
> Any truth in this -- you can tell the age of a fridge by a smart meter?
> Seriously????
> Not sure it can tell how many people are in the home, either.
> Hype in terms of oversell or over-fear?
> https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-07/amazon-will-soon-see-inside-millions-of-aussie-homes/12582776

With 5-second- or even 15-second-interval data, the signatures of
devices are very distinct.  The obvious one is heat-lamps.

Basically, once they get organised, police forces will know every
smart-meter-connected on-grid indoor marijuana farm, and can then trump
up an excuse to go in, and knock 'em off, in whichever order suits them.
 We can hope they'll limit their focus to the nasty operations and leave
the little guys alone.  (And, to be fair to the police, I've picked up
no vibes of them using the available data to raid 16yo's bedrooms).

And it would be very naive to hope that electricity companies would
think like utilities and respect the privacy of their subscribers.
They're profitable monopolies, and will monetise their massive hoards of
personal data.

Aded to that, legal protection is a forlorn hope.  The Privacy Act was
designed to protect corporations from the ravages of privacy law, not
personal data from private-sector wolves.

So no, it's not an undue scare article.

Oh, and unoccupied premises are obvious even with 30-minute-interval
data, which even the 15-20 year-old digital interval meters transmit.

Surveillance society is alive and well, and there's not enough
appreciation of it, nor enough fightback.

Regards  ...  Roger

Roger Clarke                            mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
T: +61 2 6288 6916   http://www.xamax.com.au  http://www.rogerclarke.com

Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA

Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Law            University of N.S.W.
Visiting Professor in Computer Science    Australian National University
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