How You Can Shape the U.S. Government's Policies and Regulations Regarding the Internet of Things

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is offering a one-of-a kind opportunity to influence the ways in which the U.S. government responds to the growth of IoT technologies.
By Ronald E. Quirk Jr.
Apr 18, 2016

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce that advises the President on telecommunications policies, recently released a Request for Public Comment (RPC), seeking input from all interested stakeholders regarding how to facilitate rapid and reliable implementation of the Internet of Things. Acknowledging that the U.S. government must work with private-sector stakeholders to develop industry-driven solutions to the myriad of challenges confronting the IoT, the NTIA is requesting comment on the benefits, challenges and potential roles for the government and private sectors in fostering the advancement of the IoT. Comments are due no later than 5:00 pm Eastern time on May 23, 2016.

EDITOR'S NOTE: THE NTIA HAS EXTENDED THE DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS UNTIL JUNE 2, 2016.

IoT stakeholders are strongly encouraged to submit comments in this proceeding. The NTIA will review and analyze the submitted comments and compile them into a report called a green paper that will be shared among various federal agencies. Those agencies, in turn, will use the green paper as a basis to create IoT implementation regulations and policies on both national and international levels. Those stakeholders who do not participate in this proceeding will miss a valuable opportunity to make their voices heard on many critical issues.

In order to further its mission to "craft an approach to IoT that will best foster innovation and growth," the agency seeks comments on the following topics:

General Challenges and Opportunities
How should the IoT be defined? The NTIA states that "Internet of Things" is often designated as a broad term that "seeks to describe the connection of physical objects, infrastructure, and environments to various identifiers, sensors, networks, and/or computing capability." But there is no truly authoritative definition. The agency solicits comments on how specifically the IoT should be defined for regulatory and policy-setting purposes. The explicit wording of an IoT definition in this context is absolutely critical concerning how the IoT will be taxed and regulated. If, for example, the Internet of Things is defined as a product, it will be taxed and regulated much differently than if it is defined as a service. If it is defined as a service, should it be considered a telecommunications or a lightly regulated information service? Other classifications include industrial vs. residential, public vs. private, and machine-to-machine (M2M) vs. human interfacing. All of these distinctions raise important issues concerning costs and other barriers to entry for various IoT stakeholders.

Laws, Regulations and Polices. The NTIA seeks comments on current or planned laws, regulations or policies that foster IoT development. Which of them unnecessarily inhibit IoT implementation? Should any of these laws, regulations or polices be modified or improved? If so, how? The NTIA invites information on any relevant initiatives and research that will help it to understand the current and future IoT landscape, and how to ensure seamless IoT implementation.

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