Friday, August 4, 2017

Senate Passes S 88 – DIGIT Act

Yesterday the Senate amended S88, the Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things (DIGIT) Act, and passed the bill under the unanimous consent process. There was no debate and only the one amendment (S 769, pgs S4889-90), substitute language offered by Sen. Wicker (R,MS). That amendment was also adopted under the unanimous consent process.

Changes in the Bill

The substitute language made three changes to the bill:

• In §3, removed the definition of ‘appropriate committees of Congress’ as the term was not used in the bill;
• In §4(c), added the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to the list of federal agencies to be represented on the Federal Working Group; and
• In §4(f)(2), added a specific list of congressional committees to which the final report by the working group would be submitted.

Moving Forward

The bill now moves to the House for consideration. There is a companion bill in the House, HR 686. No action has been taken on that bill beyond referral to the House Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration. Unless someone with more influence in that Committee than Rep. Welch (D,VT) becomes a sponsor of the bill, it is very likely that both bills will languish in Committee in the House.


There is another problem with this bill that I had not mentioned in my post about the introduction of the bill or in the post on HR 686. There is no definition of ‘Internet of Things’ in the bill. The problem here is that a working definition is going to have a major impact on the scope of the report required in this bill.

On one hand if we use the IoT definition found in HR 3010 [“the set of physical objects embedded with sensors or actuators and connected to a network” {§2(h)(1)}], we would almost certainly have to include most of the realm of industrial control system components in the Working Group’s study.

A more limited definition; “the interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data”; would still have a rather broad impact, but would rule out control system components and medical devices, for instance. That would make this a much more manageable study.

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