Voting Index

Freedom Index: A Congressional Scorecard Based on the U.S. Constitution.
This voting index is currently published twice a year in The New American magazine. Each index scores all 535 members of Congress on 10 key votes on a scale of 0% to 100%. The more the Representatives and Senators adhere to the Constitution in their votes, the higher their scores on this index.

Privacy and Health Concerns on “Smart Meters” Growing Globally

By:  Alex Newman
08/06/2012
       
Privacy and Health Concerns on “Smart Meters” Growing Globally

As the international effort to deploy so-called “smart meters” to monitor electricity usage marches on, resistance to the controversial devices is increasing around the world as well. Proponents claim the schemes could save money and reduce energy use. Opponents from across the political spectrum, however, worry that the smart meters might not be just a stupid idea and a waste of money — they could actually be dangerous in more ways than one.

 

As the international effort to deploy so-called “smart meters” to monitor electricity usage marches on, resistance to the controversial devices is increasing around the world as well. Proponents argue that the scheme could save money and reduce energy use. Opponents from across the political spectrum, however, worry that the smart meters might not be just a stupid idea and a waste of money — they could actually be dangerous in more ways than one.

Critics of the technology cite, among an array of concerns, the potentially vast surveillance capabilities of the new electric meters, which allow governments and other entities to gather detailed personal information on a previously unimaginable scale. Possible health risks, threats to privacy from hackers, higher costs for customers, efforts to reduce electricity usage and impose changes in energy-use patterns, and many other problems are also contributing to the growing tide of opposition.

Smart meters are ostensibly designed to monitor electricity use in far greater detail than traditional electric meters, all while giving energy suppliers faster and easier access to the data. The devices also wirelessly transmit the information collected to a central location and can even communicate with newer household appliances. A range of other advanced functions that older metering technology did not provide — some yet to be developed or even imagined — are also cited by critics and advocates alike.

One of the key selling points for the devices, which are also being used to meter natural gas and water, is that they allow utility operators to revamp their pricing structures. Utility monopolies could, for example, decide to charge more for electricity during high consumption periods while reducing prices during low usage hours. If it was a free market, most liberty-minded Americans probably would not mind that. But of course, there is more. 

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