BY JERRY DAY
We are being told that the Internet of Things is supposed to be our future, everything is connected, everything is a data source. We are told this will make things more convenient somehow, maybe, but your convenience is not what the Internet of Things is being created for. The Internet of Things is being created in a way that things will be associated with your name. So by looking at what the things are doing, people can watch what you are doing. The Internet of Things will be a living, digital organism where you can be found any time of day, watched, identified, and treated like a voluntary member of this new massive database in the sky. Of course, the Internet of Things is a way for government to assure itself that your behavior is not in any way a threat to anyone in government or, if it is, to enable them to quickly pay you a visit in a forceful way.
The Internet of Things will produce more data about you than has ever been collected, and the more data they have on you, the more they can take your stuff from you, the more they can do to you. To many people this is an abstract concept, the harvesting of data, and then using that data to track you, control you, and take your money one way or another. It is called monetization of data. People don’t spy on you for fun, they spy on you for money. Your money. I am going to show you something that will make this concept a lot less abstract. You may not mind being constantly tracked and identified when you are at work, out shopping, or moving around town, but the Internet of Things is coming in to your home, so that everything you do in your most private places becomes a database for someone else.
Government and corporations want to make sure that you cannot turn off the data stream and interrupt their surveillance of you, so they collect some of it through a device you cannot control: your utility meter. The big data farmers discovered a lucky accident: your utility meter can be juiced up to collect all kinds of personal data from you in your home. Just by jamming some special electronics in utility meters, they are creating the most invasive and massive surveillance program ever undertaken in history. Imagine collecting the daily and hourly behavioral habits of every household in the developed world. The data streaming from your meter is not comprehensible to humans, so software companies are creating special programs to turn the data into a vivid profile of you, to analyze your behavior and gradually build a highly detailed and revealing file on your life minute by minute.
This software will reveal your personal habits, lifestyle, and even your personal flaws and character, so they can sell that data to people who want to sell, tax, accuse, and penalize you for whatever they happen to see you doing in that data. Every utility company needs a very complex software package to analyze their customer data in this way. One of the companies that writes that kind of software is ONZO, a London software firm. Their software is only for utility companies to help them drill down into their customer’s personal data, and find ways to leverage that information against those customers. If you are worried about a backdoor in your cellphone, this is a backdoor in your actual home, and that backdoor is open all day, every day. ONZO made a short promotional video to tell utility companies how good their software is at invading the privacy of utility customers. If you listen closely to this, you may find it a bit disturbing.
“We are ONZO. We help energy utilities globally to build better relationships with their customers, serve them more efficiently, and some of them in a more effective way. How do we do this? We take energy consumption data from smart meters and sensors; we analyze it using our patented algorithms and build a highly personalized profile for each and every utility customer. We then tag this profile with the key behavioral, attitudinal, and lifestyle characteristics that we are identifying. We even tag the appliances that we see being used in the home. We then use this characterized profile to get the utility three things:1. Customer engagement apps that educate the end customer, build levels of trust, and ultimately reduce customer churn;2. A detailed description of each end customer that helps the company provide more appropriate services and highly targeted sales campaigns;3. The ability to monetize their customer data by providing a direct link to appropriate third-party organizations based on the customer’s identified character.
So, from a thin stream of energy consumption data, ONZO delivers significant business value for as little as the price of a cup of coffee. ONZO, the Customer in focus.”
Of course, ONZO is not the only company doing this. Data harvesting from private homes is a new multi-trillion-dollar industry. Our Bill of Rights prohibits this kind of search without a court order or explicit informed consent from the people being spied on. But the smart grid is taking that protection away, and it will be nearly impossible to get it back. ONZO’s business is to provide the data analysis necessary to expose your personal living habits to total strangers, for the purpose of commercial and legal exploitation of you in whatever way they can dream up. In that video, they quickly brush over a few key points. In case you did not quite get the ramifications of this, let us examine one key sentence toward the end of the video.ONZO gives utility companies the ability to monetize their customer data by providing a direct link to appropriate third-party organizations based on the customer’s identified character. Monetize means to make money from your personal data. One way or another, the money they will be taking will ultimately be your money. This is not a program to help you, this is a program to exploit you, to take advantage of intimate knowledge of you, maybe even to find something to prosecute you for. They are going to monetize knowledge about your character, personality, desires, fears, and personal secrets that should never be seen outside your home. They are providing a direct link to appropriate third-party organizations, that means anyone who will pay for this data. They love to tell us the data is secure and cannot be hacked. That is a lie, anything can be hacked, and as far as I’m concerned anyone putting a surveillance device on my utility meter is a hacker. I have not invited any of them to record my activities inside my home. A direct link means that corporations, government, law enforcement and any other subscribers will have your energy consumption data as soon as it is generated. When you turn on or off any appliance, any electrical device, third-party organizations will know that in real time as it happens. You could get a call from a telemarketer who would know that you are doing laundry at that very moment, or that you just stepped out of the shower.
Consider a fictional utility customer, Susan Smith. Susan uses her hair dryer several times a week at about 6:30 p.m. Her customer data shows that Susan has two small children, three and five years of age. When they analyze Susan’s lifestyle data, they will attempt to construct a personality profile on her. The analytic data may decide that using her hair dryer in the evening means Susan may be a partier, maybe a drinker, and she maybe neglectful of her small children and an unfit mother.
The software tries to build personal profiles like that from whatever data they happen to collect. It doesn’t just watch what happens, the software tries to figure out what it means. But this is just a computerized guessing game, so perfectly innocent activity in the home could be misconstrued to incriminate you in some way, or at least expose you to some unwanted and inappropriate approach by some outsider. The reality is, it is no one’s business if and when Susan uses her hair dryer. But by installing a smart meter on Susan’s home, they are collecting countless private details about Susan’s life and they will have that data forever, and they will want to make money from that data. With that analytic software, your data is far more revealing about you, your family, your personal life, than you could ever imagine.
If you permit an electronic utility meter to be installed on your home, you are agreeing to be part of this program. You are offering your personal living habits and identity to be used as a weapon against you by total strangers. I believe that no one should be collecting data from our behavior inside our homes. If you agree with that, you will find assistance and resources to oppose and resist this program at www.freedomtaker.com. Scroll down on the home page, and you will find free download document templates for legal notice of refusal of this surveillance to send to your utility company. Another website to help you with information and resources is www.takebackyourpower.net.
Jerry Day is an Emmy-winning media producer in Southern California with millions of views on his freedom and rights themed videos on YouTube under the name “minivanjack.” Jerry Day also maintains the websites FreedomTaker.com and EMFhelpcenter.com to assist people with solutions to the excess wireless radiation now flooding our living environments and causing widespread illness and death.
Jerry Day originally published “The Role Of Utility Meters In Mass Surveillance” in March 2017 on YouTube. It has been transcribed by Lady Jane Emefa Addy.