Govt moves to protect electricity grid from hacker and terrorist attacks

The Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense (GRID) Act seks to take measures to protect the electricity grid from telecoms-based intrusions. The GRID Act reportedly passed on a unanimous voice vote by the subcommittee and, if passed by the US Energy and Commerce Committee, seeks to direct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to take measures to protect the electricity grid from all forms of hacker or terrorist attack and intrusions.

According to the Associated Press newswire, the commissioners emphasized the gravity of the threat that the national power grid now faces and the inadequacy of existing law to deal with this threat.

Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and others are said to have heard the same message during a classified briefing held in February.

"Right now, our electrical grid is vulnerable to threats from terrorists and hostile countries. Our adversaries have motive, intent, and the capacity to exploit these weaknesses", Senator Markey said in a press statement.

"Every one of our nations critical systems – water, healthcare, telecommunications, transportation, law enforcement, and financial services – depends on the grid", he added.

Privacy advocates are reported to be gathering in opposition to the Act – the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) along with the Center for Democracy & Technology have both petitioned the California Public Utilities Commission to adopt rules to protect the privacy and security of consumers' energy-usage information.

According to the EFF, smart meters being installed across California will collect 750 to 3000 data points a month per household.

This level of detailed energy usage data, says EFF, could indicate whether someone is at home or out of town, entertaining guests or using particular appliances.

Tracking particular patterns in energy consumption, the group argues, could leave consumers vulnerable to burglary or scams.

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