Department of Commerce releases a Green Paper Fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things

January 23, 2017 by
Department of Commerce releases a Green Paper Fostering the Advancement  of the Internet of Things

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on January 12, 2017 issued a green paper Fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things to identify elements of an approach and areas of engagement for the Department to pursue as it seeks broad input in its future work on the Internet of Things (“IoT”). The paper asserts that the federal government needs to develop a long term strategy, a collaborative approach with the private sector and a global perspective to permit IoT technology to reach its full potential to create new industries and new consumer goods. It rejects the idea that standards for privacy and security can be left to market forces.

The Department’s proposed approach is to coordinate with U.S. government partners and with the private sector, academia, the technical community and civil society due to the complex, interdisciplinary, cross-sector nature of IoT. It also proposes that the coordination be international in scope to be effective.

Its specific approach to emerging IoT technology is outlined in the following proposed principles:
  • The Department will lead efforts to ensure the IoT environment is inclusive and widely accessible to consumers, workers and businesses.
  • The Department will recommend policy and take action to support a stable, secure and trustworthy IoT environment.
  • The Department will advocate for and defend a globally connected, open and interoperable IoT environment built upon industry-driven, consensus-based standards.
  • The Department will encourage IoT growth and innovation by encouraging expanding markets and reducing barriers to entry and by convening stakeholders to address public policy challenges.

The following four broad areas of engagement must be addressed to advance the above principles:
  • Enabling Infrastructure Availability and Access: Fostering the physical and spectrum-related assets needed to support IoT growth and advancement.
  • Crafting Balanced Policy and Building Coalitions: Removing barriers and encouraging coordination and collaboration; influencing, analyzing, devising and promoting norms and practices that will protect IoT users while encouraging growth, advancement and applicability of IoT technologies.
  • Promoting Standards and Technology Advancement: Ensuring that the necessary technical standards are developed and in place to support global IoT interoperability and that the technical applications and devices to support IoT continue to advance.
  • Encouraging Markets: Promoting the advancement of IoT through Department usage, application, interactive enhancement and novel usage of the technologies; and translating the economic benefits and opportunities of IoT to foreign partners.

The proposed next steps for the Department’s work are attached as Appendix A to the green paper.

The day after issuing the green paper, the Department published a Request for Comments on the Benefits, Challenges and Potential Roles for the Government in Fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things in the Federal Register. There, the Department is asking for a response to issues raised by the green paper and its proposed approach, current initiatives and next steps. The request contains four specific questions and also asks whether there are other issues that were missed or need to be reconsidered. Written comments are due by February 27, 2017.

Susan Rector is a partner in Ice Miller’s Intellectual Property group and a member of the Internet of Things Industry Group. Read Ice Miller’s IoT Smart Connections guide here.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances. 


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