Bonum Certa Men Certa

The 'Smart' Attack on Power Grid Neutrality (or the Wet Dream of Tiered Pricing for Power, Essentially Punishing Poorer Households for Exercising Freedom Like Richer Households)

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Nov 29, 2023

The dishonest marketing people tell us the age of disservice and discrimination is all about "smart" and "Hey Hi" (AI) as in algorithms akin to traffic-shaping in the context of network neutrality

Science Teacher

THE war is on. The war is not new. The war started well over a decade ago and it is intensifying in the face of defensive backlash if not rebellion. More people are learning firsthand what "Smart" is; in some cases, it means your thermostat in your own home is remotely controlled by some hostile company (GNU responded to this incident, making a strong point for software freedom). Is this the future? Whose future would that be?

Finland recently had a "taste" of the same thing, right after a power supplier had suffered a critical failure at a site. Finns were cold already, then they got a lot poorer (for doing something about it). Regarding that incident, see Daily Links of last week. Some aren't failures attributable to pipe accidents/vandalism but to IT incompetence. That's an issue for another day...

Today we focus on spymeters ("smart" meters).

The only thing I truly regret is that I've not kept good track or stock (e.g. a wiki page with links) of my many articles on this topic, resulting in much time wasted this morning just trying to track them down. I wrote about the primary issues with spymeters as a poem (or "smart" meters as they always call them here, even consistently and insistently too despite the misleading nature of the term). I wrote it over 2 years ago and I even talked about this way back in 2010 or 13.5 years ago. I again spoke about them in relation to the 'Appeal to Novelty' fallacy and a few more times with a detailed list of issues (I've lost track of it all because I covered the issue in several sites), aside from obvious and more widely-publicised - perhaps wrongly emphasised - security and privacy issues (and inability to go back to "traditional" meters). The energy suppliers keep giving false assurances or deadlines (for transition) and book you for fake appointments (to be "confirmed" by you), not to mention the endless spam, attempts to offer gifts (small bribes), and countless other issues. I feel like I'm constantly being harassed for not adopting these, no matter how much I ask for this torrent of spam/calls to stop, and maybe that's just the goal. They moreover resort to belittling remarks and smears (like "paranoia"), so you know they lack a really good argument and thus fall back onto stigma, name-calling, subtle demonisation tactics. Who's the troublemaker here? In some cases, or on some occasions (years), the providers were denying discounts or - in other words - having premiums (taxes) on not having the thing installed. We literally had to pay more money just not to have those things installed. So they profit from 'dissent' too. They might say they are "optimising" some "models" of the electric grids, but the net effect is negative, both when it comes to one's human rights, one's security, and one's cost of operation (those things don't run on air).

If we let this be, what will come next? Spymeters with microphones and cameras built in? Gyroscopes? Social control media integration?

Will that stop at power readings?

If we collectively or even individually surrender to this "agenda", as many people already do (it's easier to surrender than to resist), then they will do the same for water, e.g. if they are unable to supply clean water in particular quantities at some times (e.g. a certain time of the year or a certain year). Don't laugh, many countries already experience this! Who will be on top? The rich. They always get their way. The way things were 'traditionally' done, we all shared the same grids and pipes; only some meter inside your home kept track of how much you (compared to others) "consumed" and when; it was an unknown/enigma until a person came over to check. It was hard to divert everything towards "only" rich households. There was a sense of "consumption" anonymity, as least as a metaphorical concept.

Enter "smart". Imagine the future of water management in an age of overpopulation and climate change.

The implementation is not far fetched. It's already feasible, albeit with water they can adjust frequencies of visits/checks at times of draught, introducing tiered pricing for water at times of scarcity, then upselling/overcharging (ripping people off) just like on the Web/Net... or like having 'dynamic pricing' for passengers of planes (pricey flights)/trains/cars (see Uber scandals) based on how rich they are, perhaps based on some online profile (bought from a so-called "data broker").

The problem is a lot bigger than just power measurements, which can contribute to more profiling of house tenants (then selling their personal data, e.g. times indoors, home temperature, lots more).

Do you have no "spy" meter? Then no discrimination. Maybe they can discriminate based on who you are, but not based on when you use power and what for? All they have is "total" usage and a name. Here in the UK they measure usage only a few times a year, everything else is an estimate extrapolated or interpolated based on other readings.

The escalation tactics of theirs are rather telling; they phone me about this issue again and again for nearly a decade already, with an actual person rather than a bot on the line (and this costs them more than sending E-mails and envelopes with stamps).

Next time they phone I might say, "I know you go by a script, but let me explain to you what those meters are for" (surveillance meters that beget abuse of the clients - albeit that's not what they tell/brief the people on the line; they talk, they don't listen though; the script goes something like, "my mom also was apprehensive, but now she really likes these meters").

Surprisingly or not, this is akin to network neutrality, albeit in the energy, not in the packet, sense. The power resellers are like ISPs, but there's no datacentre/GAFAM, just upstream oil/coal giants. Dynamic pricing for power usage at different times of the day, or discouraging the use of power when it's cold, is a huge can of worms; the corporate/state media speaks of when many people get back from work or when it gets extremely cold...

There are better options! Options that do not enrich the cartel or oligopoly of suppliers and instead helps those most vulnerable.

A friend told me those new meters are very unsafe especially in the context of the "hybrid" warfare going on for the last decade or so against Europe. The grids aren't the only target/s but also people's homes, which now have in them an unpatched pile of e-waste they used to label "IoT" or "smart". In many homes this is the least secure link, i.e. potential edgepoint/endpoint through which to penetrate the whole home network (LAN), compromising everything.

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