Senate Holds IoT Hearing

The Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation met to discuss how the U.S. Congress can foster the development and proliferation of IoT technologies in a way that neither harms consumer privacy nor stifles innovation.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor

Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, were discussed as well. Despite significant gains in capabilities and falling costs, manufacturers and users of drones are hamstrung by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which is deliberating over rules that would regulate how and where drones could be employed for commercial applications. While consumers are concerned about what the proliferation of hobbyists' drones would mean for public privacy, Senator Booker said, their use could be a boon for many industrial users, including utility providers, farmers and miners.

Panelist Donny, from OnFarm, concurred, noting that drones can help farmers to identify diseased crops and apply pesticides more efficiently than with conventional practices. Abbott, from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, said that while the FCC deliberates about drone rules, they are being put to use in other countries that have already implemented regulations.

Adam Thierer speaking at the committee meeting
As for the best path forward, a number of senators and panelists suggested that public-private partnerships could be useful tools for encouraging best practices among technology companies, without stifling them from developing further IoT innovations. Intel's Davis reported that these types of collaborations can spur new services, while Abbott said they could lend much-needed support to IoT startups, enabling them to grow.

Booker called the IoT technologies "a phenomenal opportunity" that can infuse trillions of dollars into the U.S. economy and support jobs, as well as create a more equitable society and improve the quality of life. "We should be embracing that," the senator said, lending his support to public-private partnerships. "The Internet itself," he added, "is a result of such a partnership."

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