Light Touch Regulation is Best for Internet of Things

Womans controls Internet of Things in smart home with appOn June 2, USCIB responded to a request for comment by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration on “The Benefits, Challenges, and Potential Roles for the Government in Fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things.” In a letter addressed to Lawrence Strickling, assistant secretary for communications and information at the U.S. Department of Commerce, USCIB said the Internet of Things (IoT) offers a broad range of economic, social, commercial and societal benefits provided governments avoid burdensome regulations that would hamper the creation of IoT.

The IoT is composed of a broad group of devices and technologies that include sensors incorporated into various everyday “things,” along with enabling applications and cloud-based analytical platforms.  Objects such as wristbands, cars and other “smart” devices have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data. U.S. businesses and society as a whole stand to gain a great deal from the advancement of IoT technologies.

“The potential for IoT will not be fully realized, however, by burdensome regulations, top-down government imposition of standards, insufficient network infrastructure, and policies that force data to remain inside national borders,” said Barbara Wanner, USCIB’s vice president for information and communications technology policy in the letter to Secretary Strickling. “The U.S. Government must use its negotiating authority to fight the proliferation of polices and regulations that would hamper the development of IoT.”

In order to leverage the full potential of these new technologies, USCIB made the following recommendations with regard to IoT policy:

  • Light touch regulation – USCIB urged the U.S. government to adopt a light touch regulatory framework that is interoperable so that users throughout the world can benefit from IoT technologies. Given that regulations already exist that apply to IoT, there should be evidence of real harms before additional regulations are considered.
  • Voluntary standards – USCIB business urged governmental support aimed at encouraging private sector collaboration in open and global standardization efforts to develop technological best practices and voluntary standards for technical interoperability. Top-down standards imposed by governments which would quickly become outdated, according to USCIB.
  • U.S. leadership in reducing regulatory barriers – USCIB called on the U.S. government to lead efforts to reduce regulatory barriers to IoT development around the world, and asked the United States to help prevent other countries from using foreign policies aimed at leap-frogging technology development that restrict the market access of U.S. businesses.
  • Broader digital economy architecture – “Care should be given to considering important “back end” technologies important to enable IoT, such as cloud computing,” USCIB stated in the letter.

IoT and other important issues in digital economy policy will be discussed at the upcoming OECD Digital Economy Ministerial in Cancun on June 21 to 23. USCIB will be on the ground in Cancun representing member interests at the ministerial. Visit the OECD’s website for more information.

Read USCIB’s full comments 

Staff Contact:   Barbara Wanner

VP, ICT Policy & Managing Director, Washington Office
Tel: 202.617.3155

Barbara Wanner directs USCIB’s work on information, communications and technology issues. She works with members and government officials on a wide range of international business issue that include advocating for the continuation of the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance and for policies aimed at promoting the stability, openness and innovative flexibility of the Internet. She represents USCIB members’ interests in several international forums, including the UN, APEC and the OECD.
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