Monday, March 7, 2016

S 2607 Introduced – IoT Support

Last week Sen. Fischer (R,NE) introduced S 2607, the Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things (DIGIT) Act. The intent of the bill is to maximize the potential and development of the Internet of Things (IoT) to the benefit of stakeholders including businesses, governments, and consumers.

Strategic Planning

After outlining the ‘congressional findings’ that lead to the need to maximize the potential of IoT in Section 2 the bill goes on in Section 3 to require the Secretary of Commerce to convene a working group to “provide recommendations to Congress on how to appropriately plan for and encourage the proliferation of the Internet of Things in the United States” {§3(b)(1)}.

The working group will examine the will examine {§3(b)(2)}:

• Current and future spectrum needs.
• The regulatory environment, including identification of sector-specific regulations, Federal grant practices, and budgetary or jurisdictional challenges.
• Consumer protection.
• Privacy and security.
• The current use of the technology by Federal agencies and their preparedness to adopt it in the future.

The working group will be made up of representatives from the following Federal agencies who will be consulting with various private sector stakeholders {§3(b)(3)}:

• The Department of Transportation;
• The Federal Communications Commission;
• The Federal Trade Commission;
• The National Science Foundation;
• The Department of Commerce;
• The National Telecommunications and Information Administration;
• The National Institute of Standards and Technology; and
• The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and
• The Office of Science and Technology Policy.

One year after the enactment of this bill the working group will provide a report to Congress on the results of the study and any recommendations to Congress.

Moving Forward

Ms Fisher is a mid-ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to which this bill was assigned for consideration. One of her co-sponsors, Sen. Brian Schatz is the ranking member of the Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet Subcommittee. As such it is quite possible that they have adequate political pull to get this bill considered by the full Committee. Since the bill requires only a study and a report, there is nothing that I can see that would hinder its adoption if so considered.

The question then is if there is enough political interest in the bill to move it to the floor. Unless this bill is considered in Committee in the next month or so, the packed and election reduced schedule will make consideration unlikely. The alternative would be to include this bill in an authorization or spending bill.


It is interesting that of the five items that the study group is supposed to look at the bill only provides detailed instructions for one of those; the spectrum needs of IoT. While that is certainly something that people have been overlooking in much of the grandiose extrapolations about the future growth of IoT, it is far from the only item that deserves detailed consideration.

It is very disheartening to see ‘privacy and security’ not afforded at least the same level of attention as the spectrum needs of IoT. This is especially true since the two are lumped together as if they were intimately linked. While in IoT in the personal sector (in homes and in personal electronic devices) privacy and security are closely related, that is not so true in IoT in the manufacturing and transportation sectors. In those sectors privacy is still an issue (but much less obviously so), but IoT security is much more closely linked to industrial and public safety and to a lesser extent intellectual property. Failing to look at those linkages will provide a very much too limited look at IoT security.

The same can be said for each of the other explicated areas of concern for the working group. Each of them deserved much more attention than they were given in this bill. It almost looks like the drafters got thru the explanation of what spectrum needs had to be looked at and the realized that the deadline for turning in their class assignment had arrived. They then added a brief paragraph about submitting reports to Congress and turned in the paper. It really needs to be returned by the professor, marked; ‘INCOMPLETE’.

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