The ACMA released its issues paper in November 2015. It identified “areas for attention that are likely to be important in facilitating IoT developments in the near, medium and longer term.” And it came with a list of “suggested priority areas” on which the ACMA sought feedback from industry. Specifically:
- Any proposals from industry around the need for the designation of a discrete numbering range for M2M or IoT applications;
- Views from industry about future spectrum requirements to support M2M and IoT applications;
- Input from industry as to how cooperative models of information sharing and action by industry, citizens and regulators might be adapted to address newer forms of digital information harms;
- Any additional issues that should be included as priorities for the regulator’s attention that have not been identified in the paper;
- Whether the ACMA correctly identified the near-, medium- and longer-term priorities for attention by the regulator.
All pretty important topics, you would think. And what did it get: just eight pages from Telstra, two page from nbn and four short statements from Kevin Cox of welcomer.me, a web site promoting open source software that creates virtual identities.
Contrast this with what’s been happening in the US. In April I reported on the NTIA issuing its request for comments into “The benefits, challenges, and potential roles for the government in fostering the advancement of the Internet of Things.” To date that has received over 130 submissions.
And it’s clear that US Government bodies have been thinking about IoT for quite some time. The submissions included one from another US Government organisation, the Federal Trade Commission. In that submission, the FTC noted it has been actively encouraging debate around IoT since 2013. In November 2013 it held a workshop, The Internet of Things: Privacy and Security in a Connected World and in January 2015 issued “a comprehensive report offering substantive recommendations, based on the workshop transcript and comments received as part of the workshop record.”
FTC working on IoT for three years
The FTC claims to have anticipated the NTIA by three years, saying the report “addressed many of the issues raised by NTIA’s RFC, including the benefits and risks associated with IoT devices, and the role of the FTC in fostering innovation while protecting consumers.”
There’s not a lot of specific recommendations in the FTC’s submission, but it’s an excellent summary of the many issues and challenges around IoT: benefits and risks, to security, privacy and disadvantaged communities, risks associated with big data; the importance of interoperability.
The FTC concludes by saying that it continues to devote substantial resources to IoT and looks forward to working with NTIA to foster competition and innovation in the IoT marketplace while protecting consumers.
The submission for the US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which I reported on yesterday, opened by saying: “The future of telecommunications and the world economy lies with the Internet of Things.”
The ACMA’s issues paper is about the only Australian Government initiative I’ve been able to find on IoT. If it’s as important as the NTIA in the US makes out, our government really should do more to get some serious debate going on the issues that surround IoT.