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The Internet of Things: How Involved Is The U.S. Federal Government?
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The Internet of Things: How Involved Is The U.S. Federal Government? - Executive Leadership Articles

The Internet of Things: How Involved Is The U.S. Federal Government?

Executive Leadership Articles

The Internet of Things: How Involved Is The U.S. Federal Government?

The mainstream media tends to lag behind most tech news, and this is understandable. Its audience mostly concerns itself with tech at the consumer level, which is usually the very end of the chain. By the time an emerging technology makes the evening news, developers, investors, entrepreneurs, and mischief-makers have already moved on to the next new thing. For this reason, the phrase “Internet of Things” hasn’t yet reached the everyday parlance of casual news observers, but the news is out there, in specialized corners, and there’s a ton of it almost every day, as rumors, speculation, and punditry are cranked out to an eager, less mainstream public.

A lot of the news in IoT tends to sound the same. Developers announce new protocols. Investors jump in or hold back. Pundits disagree on how big this IoT thing is really going to be. It’s all interesting on some level, but it does tend to sound the same after a while. One exception is when the news is about how the United States government is getting involved in IoT—there’s a lot going on there, and it’s all pretty fascinating, so in case you missed it, here are a few ways our government has waded into the IoT waters.

In Congress, the Senate Commerce Committee agreed to move forward with the DIGIT Act (which stands for Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things Act), which would create a working group of federal stakeholders “to provide recommendations to Congress on how to plan for and encourage the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the United States for the growing number of connected and interconnected devices.” As the sponsoring committee is commerce, much of the focus would be on trade. One possible topic to be addressed is collecting data for dealing with transportation issues, so that companies shipping merchandise will be armed with information that allows them to save time on the highways. Politico’s report on the act cites Nike’s spending $4 million per week “to compensate for shipping delays.” Other issues for the working group are security and the availability of wireless spectrum for the predicted billions of eventual, connected devices.

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration put out a call to other federal departments for input on drawbacks and benefits of governmental regulation of the IoT. The Federal Trade Commission is among the entities engaging in the conversation, and topics proposed include the expected concerns about data security, data minimization, and consumer protections, but also how consumers can have “meaningful notice and choice” about data collection.

Just this week, the White House announced the President’s $400 million Advanced Wireless Research Initiative, led by the National Science Foundation. This is effectively an infrastructure initiative, a jumpstart on whatever 5G wireless networks will look like so that, as the country becomes more and more (wirelessly) connected, consumers will experience “faster speeds, quicker response times (‘lower latency’), and increased capacity in future wireless networks.”

Infrastructure, security, privacy, and commerce; the Congress, the White House, and existing federal agencies. These are the surface ripples of deeper movement in our nation’s government on the emerging Internet of Things. If nothing else, it’s encouraging to keep an eye on these ripples for what they represent: involvement by our leaders, early in the game, in this new technology that could change the way all Americans live their daily lives, so that our experience will be safe, beneficial, and perhaps profitable in multiple ways.

Reference Links:
DIGIT Act: http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/morning-tech/2016/06/hillary-clintons-big-tech-announcement-215057 ; http://thehill.com/policy/technology/277919-senate-panel-clears-internet-of-things-bill
NTIA and FTC: http://readwrite.com/2016/06/12/please-ftc-wants-us-government-iot-dialogue-dl4
AWRI: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/07/15/fact-sheet-administration-announces-advanced-wireless-research

 

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The Internet of Things: How Involved Is The U.S. Federal Government? - Executive Leadership Articles

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