NBCnews.com has reported that a “smart meter” can function as an in-home spy system.  In an article titled “Smart meters can be used to spy on private homes” the reporter described how researchers discovered that a German “smart meter” company (Discovergy) transmitted unencrypted data over an insecure link.

The researchers were able to intercept this data, which provided sufficient information to be able to track what was going on in a  household in terms of what appliance was in use at what time. The data was so detailed that they could even determine what TV programme people were watching.

What’s more as NBCnews.com reports:  “Flaws in Discovergy’s Web interface also enabled the researchers to send back rigged meter readings to the company, and to tap into the company’s servers and obtain a complete record of all the information collected by a home’s smart meter.”

The researchers presented their findings at a”Smart Hacking for Privacy” conference and their presentation may be viewed at this link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYe4SwQn2GE&feature=youtu.be

The full story NBC News story may be read here:

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/45946984/ns/technology_and_science-security/t/smart-electricity-meters-can-be-used-spy-private-homes/#.UwaOr4VZQw7

NB:  For people who are interested in privacy issues as they relate to “smart meters”, this website provides further information from a New Zealand perspective:  http://smartmeterpowerstruggle.wordpress.com/

Please note that if you are concerned about privacy, it is a good idea to check the terms and conditions of your electricity provider. The data gathered by “smart meters” provides another potential income stream for electricity companies if it is sold to third parties.  In NZ, at least two electricity companies (Genesis and its subsidiary EnergyOnline) have the following statements in their terms and conditions:

“You agree that we own all meter reading information….You consent to us…disclosing meter reading information in respect of you and your premises to third parties.”  [emphasis in the original]

https://www.genesisenergy.co.nz/terms-and-conditions

http://www.energyonline.co.nz/terms

Please note that both Genesis and EnergyOnline state that their terms and conditions may be modified in writing, so if you are a customer of one of these companies and are otherwise happy with their service, you may wish to contact the company and re-negotiate the terms and conditions so that they protect your privacy.  (If you do this, and would like to share the result please email through this link https://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/contact-us/.)

(Please note that other NZ companies may have similar provisions in their terms and conditions.  I have not had time to check all companies’ terms and conditions. If you check your company’s terms and conditions and find that there are similar clauses, please email through the Contact form at this link  https://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/contact-us/so the information can be shared on www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz.)