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Law Would Prevent Smart Meters From Selling Secrets

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Alex DeMetrick 370x278 Alex DeMetrick
Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Smart meters may promise a new way to track home electricity, but they’re also prompting a push for new laws to control the technology.

Alex DeMetrick reports the latest concern centers on privacy and the meters.

Smart meters use wireless technology linking homes to monitoring centers. That’s prompted some in Maryland to opt out of BGE’s program.

“Because I’m worried about the microwave radiation emitted by the smart meters in the process of their operation,” Dr. Anita Moore, Maryland veterinarian.

BGE has taken to the Internet to address that concern. But giving up standard meters that must be read by field crews at more cost to BGE has raised another issue.

“We are trusting an electricity delivery company to protect and encrypt our data. This is very frightening to me with an IT background,” SueAnn West, opted out.

“They will be able to communicate with other appliances in the house and utility companies will be able to sell that information to a third-party,” said Del. Glen Glass, Harford/Cecil County.

Glass has found other legislators to back his bill to keep that from happening. The scenario–the data of your electric use could tell a retailer the condition and age of your appliances, allowing highly targeted marketing.

“These smart meters are going to monitor what’s going on inside your house 24-7,” Glass said.

It isn’t just the question of selling data. There’s also worry about what law enforcement will do with it.

“To verify criminal alibis. So someone says, ‘Well, I was home when the thing was committed.’ Well, then they check the data. And they’re doing this without warrants,” Jonathan Libber, the president of Smart Meter Awareness, said.

In Maryland, they’re already going in. And BGE says they come with a promise.

“Our meters are safe and we do protect the privacy of our customers as well,” said BGE spokesperson Rachael Lighty.

Similar privacy legislation is also moving through the state Senate, along with separate bills to reduce the cost of opting out of the smart meter program.

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