Government Now Has a Plan for U.S. Policy Leadership on Internet of Things

Because industry and government need to work together to reach IoT’s full potential.

Technology industry leaders have released a national strategy in hopes of helping the government create policies that will unleash the internet of things’ full potential.

The new National Internet of Things Strategy Dialogue, by Intel, Samsung, the Information Technology Industry Council, the Semiconductor Industry Association and the Chamber Technology Engagement Center, has both industry and government stakeholder engagement and input. It serves as a call to action for Congress to develop public policies to aid the country to fully realize the economic, commercial and societal benefits of IoT.

According to Dean C. Garfield, president and CEO of ITI, IoT is estimated to contribute between $4 trillion and $11 trillion to the global economy within the next eight years. The report serves as a roadmap to ensure the country achieves that potential, with the help of both public and private sectors.

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At an Oct. 3 event, Garfield identified three key aspects to moving IoT forward. One is to ensure  “we have an all-of-government integrated approach,” he said, which is what the Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things, or DIGIT, Act, which passed in the Senate earlier this year, is positioned to do.

The second is emphasizing security and expanding the industry “security-by-design” standard to all of IoT, and the third is to make sure the nation invests smartly in both research and development, and infrastructure.

Garfield cited Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., co-chair of the congressional IoT Caucus, as a supporter of the DIGIT Act, working to make sure the legislation makes its way through the House. The act recognizes the potential of IoT and the growing number of connected devices, and aims to “ensure appropriate spectrum planning and interagency coordination to support the internet of things.”

According to Issa, a strong part of moving IoT forward is collaboration and security. It’s learning and implementing how to properly lock and unlock our information.

“Trying to have identity verification be organic, so that people are not fooled,” Issa said at the event. “Trying to have the next Equifax or Veterans [Affairs’]  loss of data or State Department loss of data not occur.”

“That’s going to take technologists, many of them in this room … we’ll have hundreds of companies at the table,” he added. “We have to find solutions. They're not government solutions; they’re encryption solutions, they’re identity string solutions. They’re things which cyber [industry] today probably knows a little bit about and won’t share, but every American needs.”

So, the report recommendations to Congress span from simply identifying a broad-based IoT definition throughout the administration to embarking on cyber hygiene education outreach efforts. It asks Congress to enact the DIGIT Act and direct federal agencies to support industry-led IoT standards.

The report also suggests the Commerce Department coordinate across federal agencies to prevent inconsistent or duplicative IoT regulations. Relative to security, Congress should incentivize multilayer protection of IoT solutions with hardware and software-integrated security, and include it in any legislation providing funding for IoT solutions.

The overarching theme of collaboration continues in the report, too, suggesting the administration invest in cybersecurity multistakeholder efforts and leverage public and private sector resources to improve IoT security. Federal agencies should continue working with industry to understand evolving threats, and develop best practices for IoT security and data privacy.

Issa emphasized that furthering IoT development is about protecting citizens’ information and privacy. Even when it saves them money, IoT must safeguard Americans’ identities in a way they are not protected today.

“Nobody should be able to unlock my door just because I have a Wi-Fi interface,” he said, “and that's the challenge.”

Issa and industry tech leaders called upon technologists and the continuation of government-industry collaboration to solve these problems.

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