Yesterday, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released its green paper discussing comments submitted last year on the Internet of Things (IoT). The report—Fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things—is an important step towards realizing the many benefits associated with the IoT. In particular, NTIA noted in its “planned activities” that it:
reaffirms its commitment to the policy approach that has made the United States the leading innovation economy. This approach is reflected in the 1997 Framework for Global Electronic Commerce, and has been maintained across all subsequent Presidential administrations. It asserts that policy should generally be industry led, and that regulation, when needed, should be predictable and consistent.
The Niskanen Center applauds NTIA for its reaffirmation of its commitment to these principles. As we discussed in our comments to the agency in May 2016:
The Clinton Administration wisely abstained from imposing ex ante regulations on the Internet. As a result, the Internet was able to evolve and mature according to the needs, demands, and concerns of innovators and entrepreneurs, consumers, and a wide array of other stakeholders. The same principles that informed the approach to regulating the Internet should also inform policymakers’ and regulators’ perspectives on the emerging IoT. Those principles are contained within the … “Framework for Global Electronic Commerce,” and would serve as an ideal frame of reference for how best to approach regulation and standard-setting for the IoT.
We are happy to see the agency will continue embracing the policy framework that helped lay the foundation for the success of the Internet. Applying the principles that contributed to the commercial and social success of the Internet to the IoT will undoubtedly unleash the same innovation and entrepreneurship. This, in turn, will create as-of-yet unknown and untold benefits for the American people. These principles include:
- Permitting the private sector to lead.
- Avoiding undue restrictions and regulations.
- Aiming for governmental involvement, if and where it is needed, to support and enforce a predictable, minimal, and consistent legal environment in which commerce may flourish.
- A recognition that the qualities of the Internet and IoT are unique.
By embracing these tenets, NTIA and the federal government can help to continue promoting the growth and development of the digital economy. We applaud NTIA for its continued commitment to the Framework for Global Electronic Commerce and look forward to continue working with the multistakeholder community to maximize the benefits of the IoT.