Commerce Lays Out Proposals for Encouraging Internet of Things

January 12, 2017–In a “green paper” released today, the Department of Commerce proposes several ways in which the department can foster the development of the Internet of things (IoT), including “fostering the physical and spectrum-related assets needed to support IoT growth and advancement.”

The paper, titled “Fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things,” was informed by comments submitted in response to an April 2016 request for comment (TRDaily, April 5, 2016) and a September 2016 workshop (TRDaily, Sept. 1, 2016).

The department said that a notice will appear in tomorrow’s “Federal Register” in which the department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration will seek “public input on the green paper’s findings, proposed approach, and next steps.”

In pursuit of the goal of fostering infrastructure, the green paper suggests “next steps” of continuing spectrum management innovation, expanding “digital inclusion efforts to include an emphasis on IoT adoption and availability,” encouraging adoption of Internet protocol version 6 (IPv6), and coordinating “with the private sector, as well as federal, state, and local government partners, to ensure the infrastructure to support IoT continues to expand, that access to infrastructure is inclusive and affordable, and that the infrastructure remains innovative, open, secure, interoperable and stable. This includes promoting adoption and usage to encourage deployment and investment, and engaging in technical assistance and research and development.”

In the area of “crafting balanced policy and building coalitions,” the green paper recommends that the department work on “[r]emoving barriers and encouraging coordination and collaboration; influencing, analyzing, devising, and promoting norms and practices that will protect IoT users while encouraging growth, advancement, and applicability of IoT technologies.”

Toward this end, the green paper looks toward department action on issues such as cybersecurity, privacy, intellectual property, and cross-border data flows. It contemplates convening multistakeholder processes on IoT issues, working with other government agencies, and engaging internationally.

In the area of “promoting standards and technology advancement,” the green paper recommends that the department work on “[e]nsuring that the necessary technical standards are developed and in place to support global IoT interoperability and that the technical applications and devices to support IoT continue to advance.”

In this regard, the paper proposes that the department will “monitor IoT related technology developments and applications and contribute to research and development involving those technologies”; “[a]dvocate for industry-led, consensus-based, international standards for IoT technologies and applications in its bilateral and multilateral engagements”; and “[a]ctively participate in, and contribute to, the development of technical standards for IoT.”

In the area of “encouraging markets,” the green paper recommends that the department work on “[p]romoting the advancement of IoT through Department usage, application, iterative enhancement, and novel usage of the technologies; and translating the economic benefits and opportunities of IoT to foreign partners.”

Proposed next steps in this area include continuing “to work toward fulfilling the missions of its various bureaus with greater impact and efficiency by leveraging emerging technologies such as IoT” and informing and influencing “government practices (purchasing and otherwise) in the use of emerging technologies such as IoT in a way that maximizes efficiency and the public good while protecting the security and privacy of individuals, which will help promote a market for devices that are consistent with these practices.”

Other proposed next steps related to encouraging markets are leveraging the department’s own role as IoT consumer; “inserting the business perspective into federal workforce policy making to support creation of quality career paths for workers, particularly in areas of emerging technologies such as IoT”; incorporating IoT “into current education and awareness programs, such as the USPTO’s Global Intellectual Property Academy, which provides intellectual property training in the United States and around the world”; and conducting “research to improve the measurement of information and communications technology-enabled goods and services (including IoT) in order to improve the estimate of GDP, particularly as it relates to the digital economy, and productivity.”

The paper also proposes exploring “developing metrics to better understand the role of IoT in the industrial value chain and its contributions to GDP, exports, and other economic measures. The Department will establish a definition for the digital economy and develop estimates of the domestic output, value added, and employment associated with the digital economy.”

Daniel Castro, director of the Center for Data Innovation, welcomed the report, saying, “The Department of Commerce has built a strong case for a proactive and coordinated effort throughout the federal government to support the Internet of Things on a national scale. Because of the unique characteristics of the Internet of Things, including its potential scale and scope, the United States will not be able to capture the full social and economic benefits of the technology without a concerted effort from policymakers throughout government to promote the development of the technology. We hope this report builds further momentum for Congress to move forward with establishing a national strategy for the Internet of Things.”

Mr. Castro added, “The report makes a strong argument for substantial government involvement with the Internet of Things and finds that there is widespread agreement on the need for a national strategy to support the technology. We urge Congress to take the lead on a widely supported policy initiative that would substantially strengthen the U.S. economy and its international competitiveness.” – Lynn Stanton, lynn.stanton@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily