Oppression watch: Jail time for refusing new energy meter

Tomorrow the First Chamber of Dutch parliament (the senate, if you will) will vote on the nation-wide introduction of the 'smart energy meter'. The proposal has already been approved by Second Chamber. This despite the fact that 70% of the Dutch (NL) don't want the thing in their house.

And with good reason. The 'smart energy meter', a digital replacement of the the usual electricity meter, reports the household energy consumption to the supplier every 15 minutes. Consumer protection agency Consumentenbond, also dead set against the new meter, has raised questions over privacy issues, as do 65% of respondents to interviews conducted by the consumer TV program TROS Radar (NL). With the meter reporting consumption four times an hour, it is easy to detect whether or not occupants of a home are away, for instance.

The government wants the introduction in a bid to make the average citizen more conscious of their energy consumption, which can be tracked on a dedicated website. Yet of the 1300 households participating in a trial, 53% indicated they have never looked at their energy consumption.

Of the total of 13,000 people interviewed, 20% indicated they would refuse the 'smart energy meter'. But (and here's the kicker): They were not aware that refusal of the new meter is punishable by a jail sentence of 6 months. When advised of this, most thought that they were hearing an April-fool's joke (the interviews were conducted on April 1st).

Six months in jail for refusing a privacy invading contraption that nobody wants, foisted on us by the government. I did a bit of googling to find out, what else a person in the Netherlands needs to do to get such a sentences. Here's what I found (all links NL):

- Sabotaging two F16 figher jets.

- Computer hacking, internet fraud and extortion

- Stabbing a fellow student in school

That is the sort of criminal behavior our government, and our 'representatives' in parliament find comparable to refusing a gadget that would destroy your privacy. Why aren't we ringing the Binnenhof with a multitude of angry men and women waving torches and pitchforks?

[UPADTE001] Proposal defeated! The Dutch senate voted down (NL) the proposal for a law making introduction of the 'smart energy meter' compulsory, on pain of conviction for an economic crime. The proposal will now call for voluntary adoption of the new digital meter, and not slap a 17,000 euro fine and a 6 months jail sentence on anyone refusing to install the thing.

But Minister of Economic affairs Maria Verhoeven is not very upset by this defeat. By 2020 the 'smart energy meter' will be made compulsory throughout the EUnion anyway. Undoubtedly with the same draconian measures for refuseniks.

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