I can now confirm that Austin Police have access to Austin Energy customer usage information. The City of Austin, in response to my open records request, turned over an agreement titled “Utility Database Confidentiality Agreement.” This agreement gives Austin PD the right to search Austin Energy customer information without a warrant.
Here is the history. I received an email from the NORML listserv. An Austin resident was concerned the police were using customer information from Austin Energy. Allegedly, Austin PD was using electricity bills to get search warrants for marijuana grow operations. I, along with ACLU Texas, filed open information requests to confirm this story.
The City of Austin withheld further information pending an AG opinion. For those who are not familiar with Open Records requests, Attorney General Opinions are often sought to delay releasing information.
The City of Austin claims they will not release further information because it would “permit private citizens to anticipate weakness in a police department, avoid detection, jeopardize officer safety, and generally undermine police efforts to effectuate the laws of the State.”
It is a sad day for freedom when your power company become an agent for law enforcement. Is the danger from cannabis so great that we must give up our privacy?
The War on Drugs makes us all less safe and less free. Austin Police have 127 unsolved murders they could be working on. Instead they are wasting resources on indoor pot farms. Unplug your tanning bed and hot tub or else expect Austin SWAT to visit.