Smart meters help cops identify and bust indoor marijuana growing operations
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Smart meters help cops identify and bust indoor marijuana growing operations

Toledo : OH : USA | Mar 02, 2011 at 7:24 AM PST
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Smart meters can help police bust indoor marijuana growing operations. It does so because the smart meters provide highly detailed energy use data, that could be used in real time surveillance of neighborhoods, communities, cities and eventually the nation's entire electrical grid.

In central Ohio, law enforcement officials file as many as 60 subpoenas each month for energy use records of people suspected in indoor marijuana growing operations. It seems that most of the residences with indoor pot growing operations are in quit neighborhoods without much traffic.

HOW COPS USE SMART METER TECHNOLOGY IS INTERESTING

According to Drug Enforcement Agency, the subpena is only "one tool" used to catch illegal grow house operations. What typically happens is that police may recieve a tip of suspicous activity and undercover officers might not find anything illegal during a routine surveillance of the suspect's residence. So then "utility consumption records" can be sought which could be one indicator police use to get 'probable cause' to go search the place.

Using smart grid for surveillance to catch indoor pot farmers is not new. We found references to this going back to 2005 see: "NeverGetBusted" document "fishing for pot" and the Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog reported on "Texas warrantless surveillance program" in which Austin Energy provides police with "customer usage information" to find grow houses.

POT GROWERS GET "SMART" ALSO

In writing this article, I did some investigating and found some people who traffic in pot willing to talk with me about there smart energy concerns. They indicated there are many ways around that kind of smart meter surveillance and monitoring. The primary one, don't opt for smart meter technology, if you can. They cited the use of solar energy panels to feed back energy into the grid, gas generators and the tapping of nearby electrical utility lines illegally for power (smart grid makes that more and more difficult however). One fellow indicate the possibility of 'meter tampering or bypass', but I didn't really understand how that works, but thought I should mention it.

TRENDING NOW- SMALLER MARIJUANA GROW OPERATIONS

The growers say the trend now is "hydro" and "chronic" so called: "one hit wonders" - or the growing of high quality medical grade marijuana, through cross breading and genetics. So marijuana grow operations are forming that are tending to be cultivating smaller crops that interestingly enough sell for more money. So it will be interesting to see how this will evolve over time. If marijuana was legalized the government could tax the f*cking shit out it, like they do now for alcohol and cigarettes. But that is my personal opinion.

MANY DIFFERENT ENERGY SPIES

But law enforcement is only the beginning of how smart grid can be used to spy and commit what might be called: "soft forms of espionage".

Insurance companies for example could use the smart grid data as real time surveillance to determine if people are present in the home they are asked to insure as a primary residence. The press also could use smart meters to monitor and report on celebrities and politicians energy usage and meter data.

THE "DARK SIDE"

Everything has a "dark side" as Darth Vader would call it. So to smart meter technology. Criminals may want to see the data to determine the "point of least energy usage" which would give then the best time to come around the house to burglarize it maybe...or see what kind of high dollar appliances you might have to rip off! Creditors too could use that data to theoretically determine in behavior indicates credit worthiness for example. And I can think of a billion others, but you get my point.

The scariest report I saw was the fact that smart meter grids could include as many as 440 million customers meaning 440 million "new hackable points" by the end of 2015 (reported by Computerworld), according to Lockheed Martin General Manager of Energy and Cyber Services.

So besides privacy conerns for criminals - smart grid presents new vulnerability to the electrical grid itself.

In the near future we may see a time when energy will be regulated and more controlled ad so will your usage of that energy.

Welcome to George Orwell's 1984.

RobertTilford01 is based in La Crosse, Kansas, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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