The Internet of Things (IoT) encapsulates the idea that ordinary objects—from thermostats and shoes to cars and lamp posts—will be embedded with sensors and connected to the Internet. These devices will collect a treasure trove of data that can be used to enhance public safety, public health and the economy, while improving society in general for everyone. With this technology quickly becoming ubiquitous, the number of connected devices could exceed 40 billion by 2020, policymakers need to develop a framework that ensures that we will receive the full benefits of this growing revolution. In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, Daniel Castro argued that efforts to formulate IoT policy need to balance the need for strong privacy and security practices with continued innovation and technological development.
Testimony and Filings
ITIF Files Recommendations for IP Transition
ITIF supports the FCC in promoting the ongoing transition to telephone networks that are based on next-generation technologies. Consumers are already migrating off legacy networks; regulators should be careful to not discourage this transition. Whether it be ensuring a smooth process for retirement of copper networks or allowing flexible choices for equipment backup power, the Commission’s fundamental goal should be promote the move to new and better technology.
ITIF President Robert Atkinson Testifies on “The Uncertain Future of the Internet”
ITIF recommends a network policy for the 21st century that recognizes the Internet is not inherently “neutral” and that while some forms of traffic differentiation can be anti-consumer or stifle innovation, others forms can enable innovative new services. This approach also recognizes the need for innovation and investment not just at “the edge” among content and application developers, but also within the network itself. A balanced set of regulations and ongoing oversight is appropriate to both allow innovation and consumer-welfare enhancing network prioritization while at the same time policing commercially unreasonable and anti-competitive conduct.
The time has come to clarify the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) jurisdiction and give it the tools of precision it needs to ensure the Internet—at both the core and the edge—continues to be the fount of innovation and creativity we enjoy today. Unfortunately, the FCC is poised to redirect its broadest and most powerful provisions, Title II, to regulate broadband. Where we need a scalpel, the FCC is picking up a sledgehammer.
Happily, there is broad agreement on the high-level principles of network policy, and Congress can easily bring closure to this debate. A legislative solution should first and foremost clarify the FCC’s jurisdiction and offer it an alternative to Title II. This alone will foreclose years of legal and regulatory uncertainty. Furthermore, legislation should recognize the need for balance in providing the tools needed to ensure the Internet continues to thrive and evolve. Our goal ten years from now should be a better, smarter network than the one we have today—one that supports a rich diversity of applications, not one that delivers all Internet traffic with exactly the same performance.
Anti-Consumer Effects of Laws Prohibiting Direct Distribution of Automobiles
ITIF served as a cosignatory to an open letter to state government leaders calling for the end of policies designed to block the sale of Tesla automobiles. Multiple states have passed laws that prevent the company from selling cars directly to consumers, restricting choice and limiting access to innovative alternative fuel technologies. Additional organizations joining in the call include: Americans for Prosperity, the Consumer Federation of America and the Sierra Club.
The Foreign Investment Climate in China
Rob Atkinson testified before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission at a hearing on the foreign investment climate in China. Atkinson noted that since President Xi Jinping assumed power in 2012, China has rapidly accelerated its efforts to promote “indigenous innovation” not just using the “carrot” to help Chinese firms but also the “stick” to harass foreign producers, to the detriment of the American economy and the global innovation ecosystem. Further, absent concerted action soon by the United States and its global allies, we will have to live with the long-term negative consequences of China’s actions on the U.S. economy and national security capabilities.
ITIF Supports the Immigration Innovation Act of 2015
ITIF expresses strong support of the Immigration Innovation Act of 2015 in a letter to Chuck Grassley, Chair of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. The Immigration Innovation Act of 2015 would greatly improve the system regulating high-skilled immigration and promote recruitment and retention of the workforce skills and intellectual capacity that are imperative to enhancing innovation in the United States.
Comments to ICANN on its Five-Year Operating Plan
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a non-profit organization that brings together various stakeholders to “discuss, debate, and develop policies about the technical coordination of the Internet’s domain name system (DNS).” ICANN has requested public comment on its Draft Five-Year Operating Plan. The Center for Data Innovation has filed comments describing how the ICANN community would benefit greatly from ICANN committing itself to open data and how such a commitment would bring its transparency and openness efforts in line with other leading global organizations.
Testimony to the Commission to Review the Effectiveness of the National Energy Laboratories
Matthew Stepp, Executive Director of ITIF’s Center for Clean Energy Innovation, provided testimony to the Commission to Review the Effectiveness of the National Energy Laboratories on methods for reforming the National Lab system to improve its innovation capabilities. The Commission was created by Congress to study the Department of Energy laboratory system and propose policy reforms to increase innovation and effectiveness from public investments in lab research. It was a created, in part, from a series of reports co-authored by Stepp titled, Turning the Page: Re-imagining the National Labs in the 21st Century Innovation Economy and Going Local: Connecting the National Labs to their Regions for Innovation and Growth.
ITIF Comments to the New York State Department of Financial Services on the Proposed BitLicense Framework
The New York State Department of Financial Services’ (NYSDFS) is currently considering regulations for virtual currencies (e.g. Bitcoin). While ITIF believes that the State of New York is likely the wrong entity to address these important policy issues, we have offered a number of recommendations should it continue to pursue these regulations. To strike the right balance that helps protect customers and root out illegal activity without stifling innovation or competition, New York should foster new entrants and budding virtual currencies without burdening their adoption with heavy-handed reporting requirements. Virtual currencies may be the next wave of innovation in our country’s financial services or they may be just a flash in the pan. Only time and a light regulatory touch will tell.
ITIF Comments on Connected Cars
ITIF submitted comments with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, recommending that it wait until DSRC and unlicensed devices can confidently share the 5.9 GHz band before mandating DSRC technology. We believe a mandate may well be appropriate to overcome the initial adoption hurdle, but the spectrum coexistence question should be resolved first.