New electricity meters may be burglars’ best friends

CONSUMERS’ associations warn that new electricity metres could be helping cause burglaries and complain that the Spanish government has so far done nothing to address the problem.
Facua-Consumidores en Accion association has said that new electricity meters are helping burglars discover whether properties are occupied or not thanks to a light which flashes at varying speeds depending on the amount of electricity being used by homes.
The association has claimed that the government has taken no notice of repeated warnings on the meters, which are easily visible from outside homes meaning owners are put at extra risk.
Following complaints which started in 2012, the Spanish Data Protection Agency confirmed that the meters provide real time information on whether a property is occupied, meaning they can encourage burglaries especially while owners are away on holiday.
The old National Energy Commission (CNE) demanded changes be made to the new meters back in 2012, and the National Police force started to include them as a risk on their list of precautions to take before going on holiday, Facua said.
Following an investigation on the matter, Data Protection concluded that regulations did not include the possibility of information being so easily accessed by third parties and stressed that the lights were only of use for tests carried out by technicians.
Endesa, one of the main providers installing the meters, told the agency that it had informed the CNE that a possible solution would be to programme the new version of metres to allow the lights to be switched off after installation.
In March 2012, the European Commission recommended regarding preparations for new electricity meters that particular attention was given to protecting citizens’ safety and personal information.

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