A bipartisan group of US senators has sent a public letter to the Government Accountability Office urging further exploration of the Internet of Things. Comprised of two Democrats and two Republicans, the group wants to better understand “the challenges and opportunities associated with the IoT”.
A large part of their concern is about economic potential. Market analysts have pointed to the huge potential of the IoT as major international organizations like IBM have started to pour money into R&D. And other governments, such as Britain’s, have begun to invest in the area as well, recognizing it as a potentially powerful engine for economic growth.
But the senators are also concerned with “consumer empowerment”, asking in their letter that “[p]olicymakers and regulators continue to explore what privacy and security measures would be appropriate for various IoT applications given how the technologies are evolving so quickly.” This is a particularly important area, and one that has already been giving headaches to regulators at the FTC. Given how smart devices are already running into legal trouble over their collection of data, as the IoT proliferates it’s only going to be more urgent to ensure that appropriate regulations are in place – both for the sake of consumers and those in the industry, who will benefit from clear guidelines by avoiding seemingly arbitrary legal tangles. The important thing is that everyone recognizes the potential of IoT – for good and ill.