Industry Leaders to Congress: Don’t Stifle Innovation in Internet of Things

At a hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee, trade group leaders made the case for limited regulation of connected devices, saying that too many rules could dampen the industry's potential to innovate.

The Internet of Things is still a fairly new space that has lots of room for innovation, but too much interference from government could thwart its potential just as it’s getting started.

That was the message that a collection of industry groups shared with a congressional panel last week. Speaking to the House Judiciary Committee, leaders of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM), and ACT: The App Association voiced their concerns about premature regulation of internet-connected vehicles and other products.

The groups insist they’re taking the steps to aggressively self-regulate.

“The industry is spending billions to invest and innovate around privacy and security, in part because it’s the right thing to do, but also because consumers are demanding it,” ITI President and CEO Dean Garfield told the panel, according to CIO.

“It’s up to manufacturers and service providers to make good decisions about privacy and security, or they will fail in the marketplace,” said CEA CEO Gary Shapiro, according to Computerworld. “Industry-driven solutions are best to promote innovation while protecting consumers.”

The hearing came roughly a week after a Wired report exposed potential hacking risks for connected vehicles. The report led Fiat Chrysler to recall 1.4 million cars affected by a security hole exploited by researchers interviewed for the piece. That development prompted pushback from members of the committee, including Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), who suggested that regulations might be necessary to protect the public from bad actors.

The issue was top of mind for AAM President and CEO Mitch Bainwol.

“The Jeep hack of a week or two ago obviously received enormous national attention,” Bainwol told the panel, according to CIO. “I’m struck here about the need to both take the threat very seriously—and we do—but also not to get caught up in the sensationalism that sometimes accompanies a story like this.”

While there were some skeptics on the panel, other members, such as Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), sided with the industry groups, noting that Congress risked playing a “large, and potentially destructive, role, if we’re not careful.”

The testimony from industry leaders echoed a report released last year by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s Center for Data Innovation, which urged Congress to focus on encouraging uptake of new technologies.

“The success of the internet today can be credited in part to policymakers actively taking a role to ensure its growth, and this same approach should to be applied to build the Internet of Things,” the authors of the report wrote in the Christian Science Monitor last year.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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