February 8, 2017

Applying Lessons Learned to the Internet of Things



Today, the Niskanen Center submitted comments to the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) regarding its recently released green paper on the Internet of Things (IoT). As I discussed in a previous blog, the Niskanen Center is supportive of NTIA’s approach to addressing concerns with the IoT, and is especially pleased the Agency opted to reaffirm its commitment to the Framework for Global Electronic Commerce.

This guiding document can be of immense benefit to federal agencies attempting to navigate the complexities of the IoT, as well as the broader array of new emerging technologies. To that end, NTIA should be a forceful advocate for other agencies, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Federal Aviation Administration, in embracing the Framework’s general tenets. Those principles, in turn, can ensure regulators establish better processes governing the multistakeholder procedures that address standards and best practices created by the private sector. (For a more thorough breakdown of how the Framework’s principles can be effectively implemented, see this recent blog post.)

From the executive summary:

The Niskanen Center wishes to express its support for the Department of Commerce’s reaffirmation of the principles of the Clinton Administration’s Framework for Global Electronic Commerce. This document’s guidance will serve the Department well in addressing the many questions surrounding the appropriate role for government to play in regulating the Internet of Things, as well as other new emerging technologies.

However, we believe the Department should go further. Its next steps should involve actively advocating for other regulatory bodies to embrace these same principles. A unified government policy on how best to address emerging technologies would have an immensely beneficial impact on market certainty across numerous sectors of the economy, and ensure society continues to reap the benefits of rapid innovation and technological progress. The Department is well-positioned to be a leader on crafting a new regulatory approach to policy questions surrounding emerging technologies. Other agencies would benefit greatly from embracing these same principles, including the general regulatory process of industry-led standards and multistakeholder fora serving as primary avenues for regulatory action.

Read the full comments here.