EFF: An Illinois Court Just Didn’t Get It: We Are Entitled to Expect Privacy In Our Smart Meter Data, Which Reveals What’s Going On Inside Our Homes by Karen Gullo and Jamie Williams:
Cities across the country are switching to wireless smart meters. You may even have one in your home. Utility companies say the new technology helps consumers monitor their energy use and potentially save money. But smart meters also reveals intimate details about what’s going on inside the home. By collecting energy use data at high frequencies—typically every 5, 15, or 30 minutes—smart meters know exactly how much electricity is being used, and when. Patterns in your smart meter data can reveal when you are home, when you are sleeping, when you take a shower, and even whether you cook dinner on the stove or in the microwave. These are all private details about what’s going on inside your home—details that should be clearly within the bounds of Fourth Amendment protection.
But a federal district court in Illinois has held—in a lawsuit alleging that smart meters installed in Naperville, Illinois, put the privacy of the city’s citizens at risk—that Americans can’t reasonably expect any privacy in the data collected by these devices. According to the court, smart meter data is completely beyond the protection of the Fourth Amendment.