Congress is working to better understand the growing Internet of Things (“IoT”) industry—and soon may be asking industry stakeholders for input. On Wednesday, November 28, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation designed to provide Congress with greater insights into the inner workings of the IoT industry and to promote collaboration between IoT industry participants and the federal government.
The bill (H.R. 6032 (115)), known as the State of Modern Application, Research and Trends of IoT Act, or the “SMART IoT” Act, directs the U.S. Department of Commerce to conduct a study on the state of the “internet-connected device industry” in the United States. Among other items, the bill requires the Commerce Department to undertake a survey of the IoT industry, and specifically calls on the Department to conduct outreach to IoT industry participants. The results of the study would be compiled into a report to Congress that includes recommendations for growing the U.S. economy “through the secure advancement of internet-connected devices.”
The lead co-sponsors of the bipartisan bill—Representative Bob Latta (R-OH), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection, and Representative Peter Welch (D-VT)—launched an IoT Working Group in 2016 to focus on the policy implications of IoT. Now, House lawmakers are moving to obtain a better understanding of how federal policy towards IoT can encourage innovation and help avoid potential obstacles to its implementation. Speaking in support of the bill, Rep. Latta emphasized the enormous potential economic impact of IoT applications—estimated at $11.1 trillion worldwide by the year 2025, according to one study—and noted that Congress needs additional information on “the landscape for federal, public-private, and self-regulatory efforts” in the IoT space in order to develop appropriate policy in the IoT industry.
Members of the wireless communications industry praised the House’s swift action on the SMART IoT Act, with CTIA, a major trade association representing the industry, applauding the bill for “leverag[ing] industry efforts to develop innovative, secure IoT applications and ensur[ing] continued U.S. leadership in IoT development.”
The SMART IoT Act now moves for consideration in the Senate. In light of the bill’s unanimous support in the House, the Senate may use fast track procedures to pass the bill and send it to the President’s desk, where it likely would be signed into law.