Archive for April 2013

Pacific Gas and Electric reaches $390k settlement in spying case

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) will pay $390,000 to settle a regulatory investigation into its 2012 smart meter “spying” scandal.

The agreement with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) was reached earlier this month. CPUC had been investigating the actions of former PG&E employee William Devereaux, who was accused of monitoring anti-smart meter groups online between 2009 and 2010 using fabricated credentials. The CPUC issued an Order Instituting Investigation (OII) in April 2012, and it has only now been resolved.

The $390,000 penalty will be paid into California’s General Fund. The settlement also requires PG&E to revamp its social media education and training process and sponsor three third-party regulatory training sessions by 2015.

The CPUC said the settlement was in line with what it found to be a violation of customer privacy and transparency.

“I hope that this investigation has sent a strong message to PG&E and all other utilities regulated by the CPUC that we will not tolerate consumer abuses in any shape or form. We expect our utilities to treat their customers with respect and compassion and engage with their customers in a transparent, ethical, and productive manner,” said CPUC Commissioner and lead investigator Mike Florio, in a statement.

Smart meter opposition groups viewed Devereaux’s actions as a means to disrupt smart meter installations and mislead activist groups. After the settlement came to light, PG&E denounced Devereaux’s actions and put a renewed focus on its social media practices.

“As soon as we found out about the activities…we were very cooperative,” PG&E spokesperson Greg Snapper told FierceEnergy, in an interview shortly after the CPUC released its April 2012 report. “What it really came to was it stressed the need for more employee engagement around how to use social media in a professional setting.”

From Fierce Energy at

U.S. and China announce cybersecurity collaboration amid hacking dispute

China and the US, which are embroiled in a bitter dispute over hacking, have agreed to set up a cybersecurity working group, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday.

“All of us, every nation, has an interest in protecting its people, protecting its rights, protecting its infrastructure,” he told reporters on a visit to Beijing.

“Cybersecurity affects everybody,” he said. “It affects airplanes in the sky, trains on their tracks, it affects the flow of water through dams, it affects transportation networks, power plants, it affects the financial sector, banks, financial transactions.

“So we are going to work immediately on an accelerated basis on cyber.”

The world’s two largest economies have traded accusations this year over cyber-attacks after a US research company said in February that a Chinese army unit had stolen huge amounts of data, from mostly US companies.

China dismissed the report as “groundless”, saying its defence ministry websites were often subjected to hacking attacks originating in the US.


Cybersecurity: A view from the front lines

The changes in the digital world today represent a dramatically sped-up version of the changes the world underwent in a century of industrialization. It is a paradigm transformation of our world: Notions of a nation’s size, wealth, power, military might, population and G.D.P. mean something altogether different from what they meant a generation ago.

These relations are in constant flux, and old assumptions no longer hold. Today, a small, poor East European country can be a world leader in e-governance and cybersecurity.

In February, the United Nations praised Estonia’s e-Annual Report system, by which entrepreneurs can submit annual reports electronically, as the “best of the best” e-Government application of the past decade. Last autumn, Freedom House ranked Estonia first in Internet freedom for the third year in a row (the United States and Germany were second and third).

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