Tagging onto the public interest generated at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show and its Internet of Things (IoT) Showcase, Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced plans on 12 January to form a Congressional Caucus on the Internet of Things (IoT).
The announcement also anticipates a forthcoming report by the Federal Trade Commission that is expected to focus on IoT-related privacy and security issues. Also on the IoT horizon are anticipated future regulatory actions on topics such as data sharing, interoperability and spectrum policy that is likely to attract congressional scrutiny.
According to DelBene, “as someone with a long career in the technology industry and as an entrepreneur, I know firsthand how quickly technologies have developed to become critical to our daily lives.” Explaining her rationale for forming the IoT caucus, she added “policymakers will need to be engaged and educated on how we can best protect consumers while also enabling these new technologies to thrive. It’s important that our laws keep up with technology and I look forward to co-chairing the IoT caucus.”
Issa, who chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, also highlighted the need to educate Congress, noting that "It's critical that lawmakers remain educated about the fast paced evolution of the Internet of Things, and have informed policy discussions about the government's role in access and use of these devices."
Both DelBene and Issa come to the issue from backgrounds in high-tech business. DelBene was a director of marketing and business development for Microsoft from 1989-1998, and went on to help found drugstore.com and serve as CEO of Nimble Technology before returning to Microsoft in 2004 to manage its mobile communications business. She subsequently went into public service as director for the Washington State Department of Revenue before running successfully for a House seat in 2014.
Before his election to Congress in 2000, Issa was the CEO of Directed Electronics, a Vista, California-based manufacturer of aftermarket automobile security and convenience products.
Caucuses are groups comprised of members of the United States Congress who share common legislative interests or objectives. They allow members to share information and collaborate on common interests. They can also provide a mechanism for interaction with outside groups and organizations who have similar interests.
There are currently nearly 750 formal and informal caucuses or working groups in Congress.
The IOT caucus will join a long list of STEM-related caucuses including groups organized around aerospace, biotechnology, cloud computing, intelligent transportation, the Internet, life sciences, neuroscience, e-waste, electronic warfare, renewable energy, and STEM education. IEEE-USA serves on advisory groups for two congressional caucuses on research and robotics and organizes educational briefings for these and other technology-oriented caucuses.
Chris Brantley is IEEE-USA's managing director.