The following submission on smart meters applies in particular to the United Kingdom. The information on human rights and privacy issues, electrohypersensitivity, cyber threats, health effects, fires... is excellent and very comprehensive.
Smart Meter Evidence Check - Submission
Prepared by: Dr Isaac Jamieson (UK), Dr Erica Mallery-Blythe (UK)
The following commentary in part uses text prepared by the present authors, Dr Isaac Jamieson and Dr Erica Mallery-Blythe, from other work they have written on this issue
AREN’T SMART METERS ACTUALLY NON-COMPULSORY IN THE UK?
The claim made in the smart meters PDF (Parliament.uk 2016), which is accessible through the Commons Select Committee ‘Smart meters’ evidence check webpage, that “The Programme will replace 53 million meters with smart electricity and gas meters in all domestic properties, and smart or advanced meters in smaller non-domestic properties, by the end of 2020,” appears incorrect?
“We have made it clear that we do not expect suppliers to seek an entry warrant simply to fit a smart meter and it will not be an offence for householders to refuse to accept a smart meter,” The Right Honourable Charles Hendry, Minister of State of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (2010-2012) (Hansard 2011). DEFRA additionally confirmed in 2014 that smart water meters are not compulsory (StopSmartMeters!UK 2014).
As smart meters appear to be non compulsory (StopSmartMeters!UK 2014, Which? 2015, Orlowski & Ray 2012, StopSmartMeters!UK 2012, Hansard 2011), the information on smart meters available online, and elsewhere, should be corrected to reflect this.
HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES AS RELATED TO SMART METERS
All UK Government policies and practices are required to be Human Rights compliant. Some of the Human Rights issues related to smart meters are documented below.
THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT 1998
ARTICLE 2 – RIGHT TO LIFE
1. “Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law.”
As demonstrated in the case of LM & R v Switzerland (LMRS 1996), Article 2 is relevant in situations where health may be put at risk, and is not restricted to risk of death or actual death. There is growing evidence that individuals’ health can be put at risk by smart meters (EMF Safety Network 2015, Lamech 2014, Conrad & Friedman 2013, Halteman 2011). There are even incidences where individuals have lost their lives in fires associated with smart meters (EMF Safety Network 2016, Thiesen 2015).
When authorities are aware (or should be aware) of real risk to life they are under obligation to take appropriate mitigative action to protect those at risk (Hoffman & Rowe 2010).
ARTICLE 3 – PROHIBITION OF TORTURE
“No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” (HRA 1998).
The European Court defines ‘degrading treatment’ as “… such as to arouse … feelings of fear, anguish and inferiority, capable of humiliating and debasing… and possibly breaking … physical or moral resistance,” (IUK 1980).
ARTICLE 3 – AS RELATED TO HEALTH AND WELLBEING
The above definition appears very similar to descriptions provided by some electromagnetically hypersensitive (EHS) individuals (EMF Safety Network 2015), describing how their condition makes them feel when exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMFs), including those created by smart meters.
“EHS frequently experience ridicule and eventual rejection or dismissal by their usual systems of support [including some government authorities – present authors’ comment]. This common outcome has a profound impact on many aspects of life including employment, accommodation, healthcare, finances as well as having a profound bearing on social, emotional and psychological dimensions of life,” Genuis & Lipp (2012). It is already well documented abroad that those with EHS, and many others, are having their health adversely affected by smart meters (EMF Safety Network 2015, Lamech 2014, Conrad & Friedman 2013, Halteman 2011).
Article 3 embodies a fundamental human right. “… the right to freedom from bodily harm is second only to the right to life, and is equally based on the right which all people have a level of basic respect and dignity as human beings,” Hoffman & Rowe (2010). The physical symptoms experienced by some of those with EHS, and some non-EHS individuals adversely affected by EMFs from smart meters, are a form of torture.
SMART METERS, ARTICLE 3 AND THE EQUALITY ACT 2010
It is proposed by the present authors that discriminating against such individuals through forcing them to be exposed against their wishes to smart meter radiation in their own homes, and in areas they frequent, may amount to harassment and victimisation.
Under Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 (Legislation.gov.uk 2010) “A public authority must, in the exercise of its functions, have due regard to the need to … eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under this Act.”
SMART METERING INSTALLATION CODE OF PRACTICE
The Smart Metering Installation Code of Practice (SMICoP), which requires energy suppliers to meet the needs of vulnerable consumers, appears to completely ignore the needs of those who are electromagnetically sensitive, or may otherwise have their health negatively impacted by the electromagnetic fields emitted by smart meters.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON EHS
Between 3-6 % of the general public [approximately to 1.9 to 3.8 million UK citizens] may presently be affected by EHS, a number well in excess of the 1-2% of the population using wheelchairs (Jamieson 2014, Wheelchair 2015). It is predicted that such numbers will substantially grow (Hallberg & Oberfeld 2006).
Symptoms observed in those who are EHS include: Headaches; visual disturbance; hearing disturbance; sleep problems; dizziness; poor blood circulation; capillary fragility; cold hands & feet; fatigue; heart problems; irritability; dermatological symptoms; disorientation, reduced libido; altered liver enzymes; recurring infections; memory deficits; general malaise; muscle pain; nausea; nasal congestion; night sweats; increased need to urinate; restless legs; tinnitus; depression; anxiety.
A growing number of peer-reviewed studies (not directly investigating EHS) indicate increased occurrence of many of these symptoms in buildings and environments where raised EMF exposures exist. The rollout of smart meters greatly exacerbates this problem.
Under special test conditions, Rea et al. (1991), found that EHS is a real phenomenon in some environmentally sensitive patients (as they exhibited consistent reactions while none of the controls did). A similar deduction was reached by McCarty et al. (2011) who concluded, “EMF hypersensitivity can occur as a bona fide environmentally-inducible neurological syndrome.” It is officially recognised as a functional impairment in Sweden. The Canadian Human Rights Commission also acknowledges environmental sensitivity attributed to EMFs (Lobb et al. 2015, Johansson 2010, Wilkie & Baker 2007).
Video presentations relating to EHS
On 18th May 2015, the 5th Paris Appeal Congress was held at the Royal Academy of Medicine in Belgium. Its theme was: ‘Environmental idiopathic intolerance: what role for EMFs and multiple chemicals?’ The expert presentations given at it can be viewed online at: http://appel-de-paris.com/?page_id=1667&lang=en They provide important insights for those wishing to become better educated on this topic. [This group has since issued a scientific declaration related to EHS to the UN (Belyaev et al. 2015)].
The video presentation by Dr Erica Mallery-Blythe (2014) discussing the effects of electromagnetic radiation on health and children, and the benefits of reduced exposure levels can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNFdZVeXw7M
Also refer to the document ‘Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity & Human Rights’ by Dr Isaac Jamieson: http://www.radiationresearch.org/home/10-uncategorised/408-ehs-human-rights-dr-isaac-jamieson for further background information (Jamieson 2014a).
Many health symptoms of EHS are experienced by members of the general public exposed to raised field levels well below those presently considered acceptable by Public Health England. Such findings strongly indicate that current policy related to smart metering has to be seriously rethought. Safer alternatives are available.
“Electromagnetic hypersensitivity sufferers experience a serious deterioration in their quality of life, not only because of the physical symptoms it usually entails, but also because their lives are totally disrupted by the need to avoid exposure. In practice, it means that they not only have to avoid almost all public facilities such as transport, hospitals and libraries, but even their own homes, in order to escape adverse health effects, which is a breach of rights that are enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights,” (EESC 2014). Such matters have to be addressed through the creation of low EMF environments and biologically safe technologies.
Legal Actions and Rulings Relating to EHS
In 2011, the Labour Court in Madrid declared hypersensitivity, caused in part by RF exposure, can cause permanent disability. It’s ruling set a precedent for future conditions related to EHS. [The verdict awarded the college professor, who has been permanently incapacitated, a permanent disability pension at 100% of base salary rate (WEEP News 2011)].
Additionally, the Australian government has been ordered to pay claims for damaging the health of an employee with EMF sensitivity (Administrative Appeals Tribunal of Australia 2013, GSMA 2013).
In 2015, a French woman was granted a disability allowance by a court in Toulouse after telling that she suffers from electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) (BBC 2015). This caused a huge media turmoil. It appears only a matter of time before legal actions and lawsuits arise in the United Kingdom related to electromagnetic pollution.
Such cases seem likely to increase, particularly as a result of smart meter installations. Many individuals are reporting adverse health symptoms after the installation of smart meters and this number is increasing.
ARTICLE 3 – AS RELATED TO PRIVACY
Prohibiting individuals enjoying proper privacy in their own homes and premises through smart monitoring and surveillance of devices they use and personal timings they keep is potentially demeaning and degrading to both their self-respect and dignity and would constitute a serious breach of Article 3 for the whole population.
PRIVACY ISSUES RELATED TO SMART METERS
Unlike conventional meters that measure total energy use through day and night tariffs (which are normally read four times annually), smart meters allow energy use to be read with far finer granularity. The UK industry’s draft technical specifications for smart meters state a requirement for real time information every 5 seconds for electricity and every 30 minutes for gas (SMDG 2011). The intended access to, and retention of, such data by the UK Government appears to be in direct contradiction to EU Privacy Law and Human Rights legislation (Anderson & Fuloria 2010).
Every electrical appliance has its own energy fingerprint readable by smart meters. Those accessing such information from smart meter data, either legally or illegally, have indications of the appliances individuals have and how often they use them.
“We … have the technology to record … (energy consumption) … more or less live… From that we can infer how many people are in the house, what they do, whether they’re upstairs, downstairs, do you have a dog, when do you habitually get up, when did you get up this morning, when do you have a shower: masses of private data,” Martin Pollock of Siemens Energy, quoted by Wynn (2010). The use of such technology is highly intrusive.
It was demonstrated at the 28th Chaos Computing Congress (28c3) hacker conference that hacking into a smart meter could in, addition to identifying activity patterns in homes (including whether they are occupied) and the types of equipment being used, even allow identification of the movies being played by occupants. They stated that the security encountered was poor and the data resolution the meters provided was too high (Wisniewski 2012) – as is the case with UK smart meters.
ARTICLE 8 – RIGHT TO RESPECT FOR PRIVATE AND FAMILY LIFE
1. “Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence,” (HRA 1998).
There are numerous Human Rights privacy issues related to the UK Government’s intended usage and retention of fine-grained data collected from smart meters and related smart appliances.
“… it [is] imperative that proper consideration is given to individuals’ fundamental rights to privacy,” EC (2011). Under EU Data Protection Law, consumers’ rights to privacy “may not be overridden”.
2. “There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others,” (HRA 1998).
The argument that may be used by some that the use of smart meters, which are responsible for the breach of a number of human rights, can be defended by the above is addressed in the text below.
Article 8 may be violated through the potential weakening of “national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country” by the introduction of smart meter technology.