Smart Grid technology enables electric utilities to use communications and computing technology to glean consumer electric usage patterns to facilitate more efficient network management. It has been identified by the FCC as a promising way to use broadband to promote energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and encourage energy independence.
While it is true that the intention of “smart grid” technology is to improve network management and efficiencies, consumer electric usage patterns could conceivably do far more. For example, marketing firms may find valuable market penetration data in consumer electric usage patterns, and law enforcement could use information about electricity usage to pinpoint potential sites of criminal activity. Basically, the very characteristics that make smart grid information valuable to environmental efforts may also have serious implications for consumer privacy, and are attracting the interest of regulators here in the U.S. and elsewhere.
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