The U.S. Department of Commerce Requests Public Comment on Fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things, by Jeff Weiss

by Guest Blogger — Wednesday, Apr. 20, 2016

On April 6, 2016, a Request for Comment on “The Benefits, Challenges, and Potential Roles for the Government in Fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things” was published in the Federal Register. As noted in the preamble to the Notice, which was initiated by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce:

“Recognizing the vital importance of the Internet to U.S. innovation, prosperity, education, and civic and cultural life, the Department of Commerce has made it a top priority to encourage growth of the digital economy and ensure that the Internet remains an open platform for innovation. Thus, as part of the Department’s Digital Economy Agenda, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is initiating an inquiry regarding the Internet of Things (IoT) to review the current technological and policy landscape. Through this Notice, NTIA seeks broad input from all interested stakeholders — including private industry, researchers, academia, and civil society — on the potential benefits and challenges of these technologies and what role, if any, the U.S. Government should play in this area. After analyzing the comments, the Department intends to issue a “green paper” that identifies key issues impacting deployment of these technologies, highlights potential benefits and challenges, and identifies possible roles for the federal government in fostering the advancement of IoT technologies in partnership with the private sector.”

The Notice poses numerous questions with respect to IoT, including:

  • How should the U.S. Government define IoT?

 

  • What are the challenges and opportunities arising from IoT? Are these challenges and opportunities similar to those that governments and societies have addressed with respect to existing technologies, or are they different?

 

  • How should the USG address or respond to cybersecurity or privacy concerns about IoT?

 

  • What are other policy issues that affect or are affected by IoT (e.g., Internet governance, equity, technological, economic, infrastructure, consumer protection)?

 

  • What issues should the Department focus on through international engagement (e.g., standards setting, bilateral and multilateral engagement)?

 

  • What factors can impede the growth of the IoT outside the United States, and how can the U.S. Government help to alleviate those factors?

 

  • Are there examples of laws, regulations, or policies that help foster the development and deployment of IoT, while also providing an appropriate level of protection to workers, consumers, patients, and/or other users of IoT technologies?

 

  • How should government and the private sector collaborate to ensure that infrastructure, policy, technology, and investment are working together to best fuel IoT growth and development? Would an overarching strategy be useful in this space?

 

  • What role should the U.S. Government play in addressing these or other IoT-relevant issues?

 

The deadline for filing comments is May 23, 2016. Comments should be submitted in searchable format to NTIA’s Office of Policy Analysis and Development at iotrfc2016@ntia.doc.gov. We encourage members of the Section, as well as other ABA members, to review the Notice and provide comments on any potential implications for rulemaking or other legal issues that the Department should consider as it prepares its green paper.

Jeff Weiss is Senior Advisor for Standards and Global Regulatory Policy to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Executive Branch Liaison to the Section Council, and co-chair of the Section’s International Trade and Customs Committee.

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