The Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA) has made its first public position statement on IoT, setting out what it sees a being the priorities for regulatory attention to facilitate IoT developments in the near, medium and longer term.
The analysis, set out in an issues paper The Internet of Things and the ACMA’s areas of focus, looks at the likely sources of regulatory pressure arising from an environment characterised by multiple and complex connections of devices. It examines the existing regulatory settings and underpinnings of regulatory concepts relevant to the emergence of IoT.
The ACMA also seeks feedback on what needs to be done by industry, citizens and by the regulator to facilitate the development of the IoT in Australia. In particular, it wants input on: whether there needs to be a dedicated numbering range for M2M and IoT applications; future spectrum requirements for M2M and IoT; cooperative models of information sharing and action by industry, citizens and regulators to address newer forms of digital information; the appropriateness of the priorities it has identified and any priorities that it has failed to identify.
Much of the paper is devoted to identifying what issues the growth of M2M and IoT might throw up that require regulatory intervention by the ACMA. It notes that the growth of IoT is expected to accelerate many of the current challenges experienced by citizens and regulators that arise from global information flows and rapidly changing user behaviours, but says that direct regulation at a national level has limited capacity to respond to multinational information flows.
“Maintaining international engagement and building multinational partnerships are key strategies that assist the ACMA and industry to take collaborative action in relation to online issues,” the paper says. “Educating and informing citizens and business about productive engagement within the IoT environment is also expected to remain an important response strategy.”
Regulation: helping or hindering?
The paper examines whether existing regulatory settings are likely to assist or hinder the wider adoption of M2M and IoT, questioning the capacity of existing communications and media regulatory settings to accommodate and promote M2M and IoT developments.
On the basis of this analysis, the ACMA says it “anticipates that the balance of regulatory interventions in the future is likely to skew more towards the enabling strategies of facilitation and communication tools that, in the short term, aim to encourage innovation and the adoption of M2M and IoT applications.”
Over time, as M2M and IoT applications become more mainstream within the Australian economy and society, the ACMA expects some problems to arise and says: “A focus on problem-solving strategies may become more necessary over time to supplement the initial focus on enabling activities.”
The ACMA says it is looking for feedback on the paper to help it “refine its priorities and identify where attention is needed to further facilitate the development of M2M and IoT applications in Australia.” It has given no indication of any specific planned initiatives on the IoT front.