[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 66 (Wednesday, April 6, 2016)]
[Pages 19956-19960]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-07892]



National Telecommunications and Information Administration

[Docket No. 160331306-6306-01]
RIN 0660-XC024

The Benefits, Challenges, and Potential Roles for the Government 
in Fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things

AGENCY: National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 
U.S. Department of Commerce.

ACTION: Notice, request for public comment.


SUMMARY: Recognizing the vital importance of the Internet to U.S. 
innovation, prosperity, education, and civic and cultural life, the 
Department of Commerce has made it a top priority to encourage growth 
of the digital economy and ensure that the Internet remains an open 
platform for innovation. Thus, as part of the Department's Digital 
Economy Agenda, the National Telecommunications and Information 
Administration (NTIA) is initiating an inquiry regarding the Internet 
of Things (IoT) to review the current technological and policy 
landscape. Through this Notice, NTIA seeks broad input from all 
interested stakeholders--including the private industry, researchers, 
academia, and civil society--on the potential benefits and challenges 
of these technologies and what role, if any, the U.S. Government should 
play in this area. After analyzing the comments, the Department intends 
to issue a ``green paper'' that identifies key issues impacting 
deployment of these technologies, highlights potential benefits and 
challenges, and identifies possible roles for the federal government in 
fostering the advancement of IoT technologies in partnership with the 
private sector.

DATES: Comments are due on or before 5 p.m. Eastern Time on May 23, 

ADDRESSES: Written comments may be submitted by email to 
[email protected]. Comments submitted by email should be machine-
readable and should not be copy-protected. Written comments also may be 
submitted by mail to the National Telecommunications and Information 
Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue 
NW., Room 4725, Attn: IOT RFC 2016, Washington, DC 20230. Responders 
should include the name of the person or organization filing the 
comment, as well as a page number on each page of

[[Page 19957]]

their submissions. All comments received are a part of the public 
record and will generally be posted to http://www.ntia.doc.gov/category/internet-policy-task-force without change. All personal 
identifying information (for example, name, address) voluntarily 
submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit 
confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected 
information. NTIA will accept anonymous comments.

Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of 
Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW., Room 4725, Washington, DC 
20230; telephone (202) 482-3522; email [email protected]. Please 
direct media inquiries to NTIA's Office of Public Affairs, (202) 482-

    Background: As part of the Department of Commerce's Digital Economy 
Agenda, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration 
(NTIA) is requesting comment on the benefits, challenges, and potential 
roles for the government in fostering the advancement of the Internet 
of Things (IoT).
    Description of IoT and its Impact on the Economy: IoT is the broad 
umbrella term that seeks to describe the connection of physical 
objects, infrastructure, and environments to various identifiers, 
sensors, networks, and/or computing capability.\1\ In practice, it also 
encompasses the applications and analytic capabilities driven by 
getting data from, and sending instructions to, newly-digitized devices 
and components.

    \1\ The term was initially coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999 in a 
presentation at Proctor and Gamble in reference to radio-frequency 
identification tags (RFIDs). See Kevin Ashton, That `Internet of 
Things' Thing, RFID Journal (June 22, 2009), http://www.rfidjournal.com/articles/view?4986.

    Although a number of architectures describing different aspects or 
various applications of the IoT are being developed, there is no broad 
consensus on exactly how the concept should be defined or scoped. 
Consensus has emerged, however, that the number of connected devices is 
expected to grow exponentially, and the economic impact of those 
devices will increase dramatically.\2\ While some types of devices will 
fall into readily identifiable commercial or public sectors in their 
own right--for example, implantable health devices--most will serve the 
function of enabling existing industries to better track, manage, and 
automate their core functions. The potential health, safety, 
environmental, commercial, and other benefits of IoT are enormous, from 
reducing the risk of automobile-related injuries and fatalities to 
enabling micro-cell weather forecasting. IoT has the potential to 
catalyze new user applications and give rise to new industries. For 
example, IoT is the foundation for ``Smart Cities'' efforts, which use 
pervasive connectivity and data-driven technologies to better manage 
resources, meet local challenges, and improve quality of life.

    \2\ In 2003, there were only around 500 million connected 
devices, but by 2015 there were around 25 billion connected devices. 
Devices now outnumber people by 3.5 to 1. (Intel, A Guide to the 
Internet of Things Infographic, available at http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/internet-of-things/infographics/guide-to-iot.html). It is expected by 2020 that there will be up to 200 
billion connected devices and these devices will outnumber people by 
26 to 1. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the cross-
sector impact of IoT technologies will be between $3.9 trillion and 
$11 trillion by 2025. See James Manyika et al, Unlocking the 
Potential of the Internet of Things, McKinsey & Co. (June 2015), 

    However, the IoT also presents challenges,\3\ which in turn have 
begun to generate initial thinking and policy responses both inside and 
outside of government. A number of Federal agencies--for example, the 
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Food and 
Drug Administration (FDA)--have already begun grappling with potential 
health, safety, and security issues arising from the connection of cars 
and medical devices to the Internet.\4\ The Federal Trade Commission 
(FTC) has identified privacy and cybersecurity aspects of IoT, and 
proposed some possible best practices.\5\ Pursuant to the White House 
Smart Cities Initiative, the U.S. Government is providing $35 million 
in new grants and nearly $70 million in new spending on Smart Cities 
across several departments.\6\ Additional activities at the federal 
level seek to take advantage of the potential opportunities as well as 
address any possible issues raised by the deployment of IoT in relation 
to agency missions. IoT has also garnered interest by other national 
governments, standards organizations, and intergovernmental 
organizations that are interested in understanding how to engage in the 
IoT ecosystem to encourage economic growth and innovation.\7\ 
Unfortunately, country specific strategies threaten the possibility of 
a global patchwork of approaches to IoT, which would increase costs and 
delay the launch of new products and services, dampening investment. 
The U.S. government will need to work with stakeholders to develop 
industry-driven solutions; however, thus far no U.S. government agency 
is taking a holistic, ecosystem-wide view that identifies opportunities 
and assesses risks across the digital economy.

    \3\ See, for example, the concerns laid out by the National 
Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC) in NSTAC 
Report to the President on the Internet of Things (Nov. 2014), pg. 
21-22. https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/NSTAC%20Report%20to%20the%20President%20on%20the%20Internet%20of%20Things%20Nov%202014%20%28updat%20%20%20.pdf.
    \4\ See U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Radio Frequency 
Wireless Technology in Medical Devices: Guidance for Industry and 
Food and Drug Administration Staff (Aug. 14, 2013), http://www.fda.gov/downloads/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidance/GuidanceDocuments/ucm077272.pdf; see also NHTSA, Vehicle-to-Vehicle 
Communications (last accessed March 9, 2016), http://www.safercar.gov/v2v/index.html.
    \5\ Federal Trade Comm'n, FTC Report on Internet of Things Urges 
Companies to Adopt Best Practices to Address Consumer Privacy and 
Security Risks, FTC (Jan. 27, 2015), https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2015/01/ftc-report-internet-things-urges-companies-adopt-best-practices.
    \6\ The White House, FACT SHEET: Administration Announces New 
``Smart Cities'' Initiative to Help communities Tackle Local 
Challenges and Improve City Services, The White House Office of the 
Press Secretary (Sept. 14, 2015), https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/09/14/fact-sheet-administration-announces-new-smart-cities-initiative-help.
    \7\ For example, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), 
International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the 
International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and ISO and IEC's 
Joint Technical Committee 1 (ISO/IEC JTC1) and the International 
Telecommunications Union's Standardization Sector (ITU-T) have 
initiated discussion and work related to IoT.

    The Department's Digital Economy Initiatives: More than six years 
ago, the Department created the Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF) to 
identify and address leading public policy and operational challenges 
in the Internet ecosystem. The IPTF collaborates across bureaus at the 
Department, seeks public comment, and has produced policy papers on a 
variety of important topics.
    In recognition of the broad impact that the Internet and 
digitization are having across the economy, in 2015 the Department 
created the Digital Economy Leadership Team (DELT). Comprised of senior 
officials from across the Department, the DELT provides high-level 
guidance and coordination, leveraging the substantial expertise within 
the agency to promote initiatives that have a positive impact on the 
digital economy and society. The DELT currently focuses on the four 
pillars of the Department's 2015-16 Digital Economy Agenda: promoting a 
free and open Internet worldwide; promoting trust and confidence 
online; ensuring

[[Page 19958]]

Internet access for workers, families, and companies; and promoting 
innovation in the digital economy. Working closely together, the DELT 
and IPTF ensure that the Department is helping businesses and consumers 
realize the potential of the digital economy to advance growth and 
    Given the cross-cutting nature of the IoT landscape, the Department 
of Commerce--through the DELT and IPTF--is able to provide important 
perspective and expertise on IoT. The mission of the Department is to 
help establish conditions that will enable the private sector to grow 
the economy, innovate, and create jobs. The Department also has 
statutory authority, expertise, and ongoing work streams in numerous 
areas that are critical to the development of IoT, including: 
cybersecurity, privacy, cross-border data flows, spectrum, 
international trade, advanced manufacturing, protection of intellectual 
property, standards policy, Internet governance, big data, 
entrepreneurship, and worker skills. For example:
     The Department has long standing technological and policy 
expertise and experience that it is applying to IoT. The Department's 
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has coordinated 
the development of a draft reference architecture for Cyber-Physical 
Systems and is conducting a Global City Teams Challenge to foster the 
development of Smart Cities and promote interoperability. NTIA's 
spectrum planning and management activities contemplate the growth of 
IoT and its Institute for Telecommunications Sciences (ITS) has begun 
testing the possible effects of IoT on spectrum usage. Both NIST and 
NTIA have been actively engaged with international standards bodies and 
international organizations on aspects of IoT and other related areas 
(e.g., cybersecurity), and have been further engaged with other Federal 
     The Economic Development Administration (EDA) provides 
grants to communities around the country to build up their technology-
focused innovation ecosystems in order to grow their local economies 
and create jobs.
     The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) continues to 
improve its patent quality, especially in new technological domains, 
including IoT. USPTO also plays a key role in the alignment of 
intellectual property policies around the world, so that U.S. inventors 
of IoT technology can have access to the protections they need to 
continue innovating and sell their products and services everywhere.
     The International Trade Administration (ITA) is an active 
promoter of IoT and Smart Cities on the international stage, including 
participation in the CS Europe Smart Cities Initiative and working with 
the other Federal agencies to consider innovative financing mechanisms 
for Smart City projects. ITA hosts roundtables on an ad hoc basis with 
the private sector and federal partners to discuss Smart Cities and 
infrastructure financing. In addition, ITA's Office of Textiles and 
Apparel is holding a Smart Fabrics Summit (http://smartfabricssummit.com/) on April 11, 2016.

The Department, through this RFC and subsequent green paper, will 
capitalize on the Department's experience and holistic economic 
perspective to craft an approach to IoT and its potential impacts that 
will best foster IoT innovation and growth. Where relevant, comments 
received may also inform the work of other federal initiatives, such as 
the recently created Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity.
    Request for Comment:
    Instructions for Commenters: The Department invites comment on the 
full range of issues that may be presented by this inquiry, including 
issues that are not specifically raised in the following questions. 
Commenters are encouraged to address any or all of the following 
questions. To the extent commenters choose to respond to the specific 
questions asked, responses should generally follow the below structure 
and note the number corresponding to the question. Comments that 
contain references to studies, research, and other empirical data that 
are not widely published should include copies of the referenced 
materials with the submitted comments.
    For any response, commenters may wish to consider describing 
specific goals or actions that the Department of Commerce, or the U.S. 
Government in general, might take (on its own or in conjunction with 
the private sector) to achieve those goals; the benefits and costs 
associated with the action; whether the proposal is agency-specific or 
interagency; the rationale and evidence to support it; and the roles of 
other stakeholders.
    1. Are the challenges and opportunities arising from IoT similar to 
those that governments and societies have previously addressed with 
existing technologies, or are they different, and if so, how?
    a. What are the novel technological challenges presented by IoT 
relative to existing technological infrastructure and devices, if any? 
What makes them novel?
    b. What are the novel policy challenges presented by IoT relative 
to existing technology policy issues, if any? Why are they novel? Can 
existing policies and policy approaches address these new challenges, 
and if not, why?
    c. What are the most significant new opportunities and/or benefits 
created by IoT, be they technological, policy, or economic?
    2. The term ``Internet of Things'' and related concepts have been 
defined by multiple organizations, including parts of the U.S. 
Government such as NIST and the FTC, through policy briefs and 
reference architectures.\8\ What definition(s) should we use in 
examining the IoT landscape and why? What is at stake in the 
differences between definitions of IoT? What are the strengths and 
limitations, if any, associated with these definitions?

    \8\ Federal Trade Comm'n, Internet of Things: Privacy and 
Security in a Connected World, FTC (Jan. 2015), https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/reports/federal-trade-commission-staff-report-november-2013-workshop-entitled-internet-things-privacy/150127iotrpt.pdf; Abdella Battou, CPS PWG: Reference Architecture, 
National Institute of Standards and Technology (accessed March 9, 
2016), http://www.nist.gov/cps/cpspwg_refarch.cfm.

    3. With respect to current or planned laws, regulations, and/or 
policies that apply to IoT:
    a. Are there examples that, in your view, foster IoT development 
and deployment, while also providing an appropriate level of protection 
to workers, consumers, patients, and/or other users of IoT 
    b. Are there examples that, in your view, unnecessarily inhibit IoT 
development and deployment?
    4. Are there ways to divide or classify the IoT landscape to 
improve the precision with which public policy issues are discussed? If 
so, what are they, and what are the benefits or limitations of using 
such classifications? Examples of possible classifications of IoT could 
include: Consumer vs. industrial; public vs. private; device-to-device 
vs. human interfacing.
    5. Please provide information on any current (or concluded) 
initiatives or research of significance that have examined or made 
important strides in understanding the IoT policy landscape. Why do you 
find this work to be significant?
    Technology: Technology is at the heart of IoT and its applications. 
IoT development is being driven by a very diverse set of stakeholders 
whose expertise in science, research, development, deployment,

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measurements and standards are enabling rapid advances in technologies 
for IoT. It is important to understand what technological hurdles still 
exist, or may arise, in the development and deployment of IoT, and if 
the government can play a role in mitigating these hurdles.
    6. What technological issues may hinder the development of IoT, if 
    a. Examples of possible technical issues could include:

i. Interoperability
ii. Insufficient/contradictory/proprietary standards/platforms
iii. Spectrum availability and potential congestion/interference
iv. Availability of network infrastructure
v. Other

    b. What can the government do, if anything, to help mitigate these 
technical issues? Where may government/private sector partnership be 
    7. NIST and NTIA are actively working to develop and understand 
many of the technical underpinnings for IoT technologies and their 
applications. What factors should the Department of Commerce and, more 
generally, the federal government consider when prioritizing their 
technical activities with regard to IoT and its applications, and why?
    Infrastructure: Infrastructure investment, innovation, and 
resiliency (such as across the information technology, communications, 
and energy sectors) will provide a foundation for the rapid growth of 
IoT services.
    8. How will IoT place demands on existing infrastructure 
architectures, business models, or stability?
    9. Are there ways to prepare for or minimize IoT disruptions in 
these infrastructures? How are these infrastructures planning and 
evolving to meet the demands of IoT?
    10. What role might the government play in bolstering and 
protecting the availability and resiliency of these infrastructures to 
support IoT?
    Economy: IoT has already begun to alter the U.S. economy by 
enabling the development of innovative consumer products and entirely 
new economic sectors, enhancing a variety of existing products and 
services, and facilitating new manufacturing and delivery systems. In 
light of this, how should we think of and assess IoT and its effects? 
The questions below are an effort to understand both the potential 
economic implications of IoT for the U.S. economy, as well as how to 
quantify and analyze the economic impact of IoT in the future. The 
Department is interested in both the likely implications of IoT on the 
U.S. economy and society, as well as the tools that could be used to 
quantify that impact.
    11. Should the government quantify and measure the IoT sector? If 
so, how?
    a. As devices manufactured or sold (in value or volume)?
    b. As industrial/manufacturing components?
    c. As part of the digital economy?
    i. In providing services
    ii. In the commerce of digital goods
    d. In enabling more advanced manufacturing and supply chains?
    e. What other metrics would be useful, if any? What new data 
collection tools might be necessary, if any?
    f. How might IoT fit within the existing industry classification 
systems? What new sector codes are necessary, if any?
    12. Should the government measure the economic impact of IoT? If 
so, how?
    a. Are there novel analytical tools that should be applied?
    b. Does IoT create unique challenges for impact measurement?
    13. What impact will the proliferation of IoT have on industrial 
practices, for example, advanced manufacturing, supply chains, or 
    a. What will be the benefits, if any?
    b. What will be the challenges, if any?
    c. What role or actions should the Department of Commerce and, more 
generally, the federal government take in response to these challenges, 
if any?
    14. What impact (positive or negative) might the growth of IoT have 
on the U.S. workforce? What are the potential benefits of IoT for 
employees and/or employers? What role or actions should the government 
take in response to workforce challenges raised by IoT, if any?
    Policy Issues: A growing dependence on embedded devices in all 
aspects of life raises questions about the confidentiality of personal 
data, the integrity of operations, and the availability and resiliency 
of critical services.
    15. What are the main policy issues that affect or are affected by 
IoT? How should the government address or respond to these issues?
    16. How should the government address or respond to cybersecurity 
concerns about IoT?
    a. What are the cybersecurity concerns raised specifically by IoT? 
How are they different from other cybersecurity concerns?
    b. How do these concerns change based on the categorization of IoT 
applications (e.g., based on categories for Question 4, or consumer vs. 
    c. What role or actions should the Department of Commerce and, more 
generally, the federal government take regarding policies, rules, and/
or standards with regards to IoT cybersecurity, if any?
    17. How should the government address or respond to privacy 
concerns about IoT?
    a. What are the privacy concerns raised specifically by IoT? How 
are they different from other privacy concerns?
    b. Do these concerns change based on the categorization of IoT 
applications (e.g., based on categories for Question 4, or consumer vs. 
    c. What role or actions should the Department of Commerce and, more 
generally, the federal government take regarding policies, rules, and/
or standards with regards to privacy and the IoT?
    18. Are there other consumer protection issues that are raised 
specifically by IoT? If so, what are they and how should the government 
respond to the concerns?
    19. In what ways could IoT affect and be affected by questions of 
economic equity?
    a. In what ways could IoT potentially help disadvantaged 
communities or groups? Rural communities?
    b. In what ways might IoT create obstacles for these communities or 
    c. What effects, if any, will Internet access have on IoT, and what 
effects, if any, will IoT have on Internet access?
    d. What role, if any, should the government play in ensuring that 
the positive impacts of IoT reach all Americans and keep the negatives 
from disproportionately impacting disadvantaged communities or groups?
    International Engagement: As mentioned earlier, efforts have begun 
in foreign jurisdictions, standards organizations, and 
intergovernmental bodies to explore the potential of, and develop 
standards, specifications, and best practices for IoT. The Department 
is seeking input on how to best monitor and/or engage in various 
international fora as part of the government's ongoing efforts to 
encourage innovation and growth of the digital economy.
    20. What factors should the Department consider in its 
international engagement in:
    a. Standards and specification organizations?
    b. Bilateral and multilateral engagement?
    c. Industry alliances?
    d. Other?
    21. What issues, if any, regarding IoT should the Department focus 
on through international engagement?

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    22. Are there Internet governance issues now or in the foreseeable 
future specific to IoT?
    23. Are there policies that the government should seek to promote 
with international partners that would be helpful in the IoT context?
    24. What factors can impede the growth of the IoT outside the U. S. 
(e.g., data or service localization requirements or other barriers to 
trade), or otherwise constrain the ability of U.S. companies to provide 
those services on a global basis? How can the government help to 
alleviate these factors?
    Additional Issues:
    25. Are there IoT policy areas that could be appropriate for 
multistakeholder engagement, similar to the NTIA-run processes on 
privacy and cybersecurity?
    26. What role should the Department of Commerce play within the 
federal government in helping to address the challenges and 
opportunities of IoT? How can the Department of Commerce best 
collaborate with stakeholders on IoT matters?
    27. How should government and the private sector collaborate to 
ensure that infrastructure, policy, technology, and investment are 
working together to best fuel IoT growth and development? Would an 
overarching strategy, such as those deployed in other countries, be 
useful in this space? If the answer is yes, what should that strategy 
    28. What are any additional relevant issues not raised above, and 
what role, if any, should the Department of Commerce and, more 
generally, the federal government play in addressing them?

    Dated: April 1, 2016.
Lawrence E. Strickling,
Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information.
[FR Doc. 2016-07892 Filed 4-5-16; 8:45 am]