“This is a search on of your private life, showing your personal living patterns everyday – without a warrant. Your information going out to the Barbados Water Authority, the government, the police, the insurance company; to anyone who cuts a deal with the Barbados Water Authority now or in the future.”
Yes, my friends: that BWA smart meter is part of the government data-gathering and analysis system used to identify tax cheats (and for other purposes too.)”
Smart Meters a little too smart?
Back in 2011 Barbados Free Press published Smart Meters are Surveillance Devices – Data already used by police. Since that time there have been dozens of articles by major news outlets about privacy concerns with not only water and power smart meters, but also with the rise of the internet-connected home automation and camera systems.
While the use of internet motion detection / video-camera systems and online home appliances is a choice, the installation of smart meters is mandated by the government. And what does the BWA and the government do with the data that they collect every second? They do anything they want with that data because there are no laws against it.
Who says BWA smart meters can identify tax cheats? The technology suppliers – that’s who…
Cowater International Inc. and Sogema Technologies Inc. are the two international corporations at the top end of the US$24.7 million dollar smart meter deal with the Barbados Water Authority. The Barbados government says the total cost of the project will be US$58 million dollars.
With subsidies from the Canadian Commercial Corporation, the BWA will install almost 100,000 smart water meters on this rock and the computers and software to monitor, administer and control the system.
Commercial clients are the priority, but eventually every home will have a smart meter too. Every one of those 98,800 household smart meters will supply a wealth of data that can be married up with other data to show patterns of behaviour, associations and reveal information that never would have been noticed before. BWA data will be consolidated with other private and government data sources.
Do you have multiple residential properties, or perhaps duel use business or rental properties? Is one of the properties in a relative’s name, but you pay the BWA through the same bank account as your property? Does that relative live somewhere else? The analysis will show that. Maybe it doesn’t matter to you whether government knows… but maybe it does.
Do you sometimes not go to your business property, but work out of your home instead? Or maybe work out of your home all the time but have the business registered elsewhere because you don’t want it known to government that you are running a business out of your home? The smart meter data will show that you were at home during your working hours every day last month and therefore are probably running a business from your home.
It’s not all bad, of course. If the system had been installed ten years ago, we wouldn’t have had 28 condominiums at Mango Drive, Porters, St. James using water for free for the last ten years!
Amazing what you can find on the internet
On May 15, 2014, Sogema Technologies Inc. gave a presentation at the CCIC-CAIDP Conference in Ottawa Canada. BFP has a copy of Sogema’s PowerPoint presentation “How the Canadian Private Sector is Helping Developing County Governments Enhance Transparency, Accountability & Social Expenditures”.
Download – Sogema’s presentation in pdf
The first thing we notice is that the presentation is all about raising tax compliance. It compares the lower rates of revenue generation and compliance in developing countries against the UK, USA, Canada and other wealthier countries.
The presentation describes the benefits of SIGTAS, Sogema’s Standard Integrated Government Tax Administration System, and how this computer programme can provide a taxpayer profile INCLUDING CLEAN WATER USAGE.
Yes, my friends: that BWA smart meter is part of the government data-gathering and analysis system used to identify tax cheats (and for other purposes too.)