Smart-meter vendor says that if we know how their system works, the terrorists will win

Phil Mocek filed a public records request to find out how Seattle's new smart meters -- supplied by Landis and Gyr -- will work. As Mocek writes, these meters are based on "unspecified and unverifiable sensors that monitor activity inside of private property and can communicate collected information in real-time to unspecified machines in remote locations, the workings of which are obscured from ratepayers, with interfaces used by [the city] that require specialized equipment and are thus completely unavailable to ratepayers for personal use or monitoring and verification of information communicated, is already shrouded in secrecy and seemingly proceeding despite repeated voicing of public concern and complete lack of public justification of expense."

The city of Seattle and Mocek went back and forth on how much the documents he requested would be redacted by the manufacturer, and then, it seems, the city messed up and sent him an unredacted set of docs.

Now Landis and Gyr have filed for an injunction to stop Muckrock and Mocek from publishing the documents. In their petition, they argue that their devices' security would be terminally compromised if their workings were revealed to the public -- saying, in effect, that their security was grounded in obscurity. They even go so far as to claim that terrorists could use the documents as a roadmap for an attack on Seattle.

You misrepresented my position in your e-mail of May 11 . Nothing I have communicated to you indicates that I "will not accept redacted bids." In fact, in my e-mail to you earlier that day, I explicitly requested that you redact these public records as the law requires.

Your agency does not get to determine what is good for the public to know what what is not good for us to know. Outsourcing the design of public infrastructure does not relieve your agency--part of our municipal government--from its duty to provide public records as requested. Nor do your vendors get to determine what is good for the public to know and what is not good for us to know. That City Light are charging full-steam ahead with plans to foist a system with great potential to negatively affect the privacy and security of City Light ratepayers upon us strengthens the need for public oversight. Your resistance to providing details of your plan suggests a bad-faith effort to keep the public in the dark.

I reiterate my request for you to redact any information that is exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act and provide the non-exempt portions of those records.

Subject: Public Records Request: Smart meter security audit plans schedules proposals contracts discussion results (Seattle) [Muckrock]

(Image: Landis and Gyr)

Notable Replies

  1. Nothing raises the ire of the urban / suburban homeowner like a smart meter, nothing.

  2. this gif is turning out to be way more useful than I ever thought.

  3. Which is ridiculous, because everyone knows that the terrorists won years ago when we decided to be guided by our fears of terrorism.

  4. That happens now here in California. On most sunny days here in San Diego, I feed the grid and my meter effectively runs backwards. SDG&E/Sempra (the local power monopoly) is doing their damnedest to stop that, though.

  5. Last year we installed a 5kw solar grid on our roof, with an experimental model inverter. For the first three months it was operational, the electric company had the wrong meter in place; it would stop running forward when the panels produced more power than the household was using, but (despite promises) we were not credited for electricity we pumped back into the grid. It took several weeks of nagging for the appropriate smart meter to be installed, and we never were rebated for power we 'donated' to the electric company. Then we discovered that all the smart meter did was allow the electric company to remotely read our consumption once a month; the fine breakdown of what we generated vs. what we used (that was supposed to monitor the inverter performance) was never activated. YMMV, but I think 'stupid' was mistaken for 'Machiavellian'.

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