A recent article in Technology Review says that if you bought an appliance in the last three years, "Odds are it was 'smart'," meaning it probably contains a wireless radio that can send out information about a device's status and energy use as well as receive commands that alter its behavior. Once a device is hooked up to a smart meter, a refrigerator's icemaker can be shifted to another time of day, and "various elements of a dryer can be shut down" remotely by the utility company.
In August, a BC Hydro representative repeatedly told me and others that smart meters only record energy usage, just like analog meters. Repeating that statement did not make it true. According to Technology Review, the ZigBee chip in a smart meter will be talking with new appliances, gathering information for your smart meter, and utility companies will be capable of remotely changing the energy usage in your home.
German scientists of University of Applied Science of Münster warn that smart meters are potentially capable of becoming surveillance devices.
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