Recognizing the growing number of connected and interconnected devices, a bipartisan group of Senators recently introduced a bill which would convene a working group of Federal stakeholders to provide recommendations to Congress on how to appropriately plan for and encourage the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT).

The Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things Act (DIGIT Act) would require the working group to examine the IoT for current and future spectrum needs, the regulatory environment (including identification of sector-specific regulations, Federal grant practices, and budgetary or jurisdictional challenges), consumer protection, privacy and security, and the current use of technology by Federal agencies and their preparedness to adopt it in the future.

While the working group would seek representatives from the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the National Science Foundation, the Department of Commerce, and the Office of Science and Technology, the working group would also be required to consult with non-Governmental stakeholders – including: i) subject matter experts, ii) information and communications technology manufactures, suppliers, and vendors, (iii) small, medium, and large businesses, and (iv) consumer groups.  The findings and recommendations of the working group would be submitted to the appropriate committees of Congress within one year of the bill’s enactment.

Additionally, the DIGIT Act would also direct the FCC, in consultation with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, to conduct its own study to assess the current and future spectrum needs of the IoT. The FCC would similarly have one year after the enactment of the Act to submit a report including recommendations as to whether there is adequate licensed and unlicensed spectrum availability to support the growing IoT, what regulatory barriers may exist, and what the role of licensed and unlicensed spectrum is in the growth of the IoT.

According to the bill, estimates indicate more than 50,000,000,000 devices will be connected by the year 2020 with the IoT having the potential to generate trillions of dollars in economic opportunity.  Similarly, the IoT will allow businesses across the country to simplify logistics, cut costs, and pass savings on to consumers by utilizing the IoT.  Believing the United States leads the world in the development of technologies that support the IoT and this technology may be implemented by the U.S. Government to better deliver services to the public, the DIGIT Act was introduced following a previous Senate Resolution (Senate Resolution 110, 114th Congress) calling for a national strategy for the development of the IoT.