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Last Call for IoT Legislation in the 115th Congress

Last Call for IoT Legislation in the 115th Congress

November 29, 2018

Yesterday, the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 6023, the State of Modern Application, Research, and Trends of IoT Act (SMART IoT Act).  The SMART IoT Act would direct the Department of Commerce (Commerce) to conduct a survey of the IoT ecosystem across the public and private sectors and submit its findings in a report to Congress.[1]  Representatives Bob Latta (R-Ohio) and Peter Welch (D-Vermont) authored this legislation alongside their colleagues in the bipartisan House IoT Working Group.  H.R. 6023 sailed through the House largely unchanged from the discussion draft the Energy and Commerce Committee released in May

IoT within the Private Sector

The SMART IoT Act calls on Commerce to conduct outreach to the IoT industry to create: (1) a list of the industry sectors that develop internet-connected devices; (2) a list of public-private partnerships (PPPs) that are promoting the adoption and use of IoT devices; (3) a list of PPPs developing or implementing mandatory or voluntary IoT standards and policies and the status of those standards; and (4) a description of the ways entities or industry sectors develop, use, and promote the use of IoT devices.

IoT within Federal Agencies 

The bill also directs Commerce to develop a comprehensive list of Federal agencies with jurisdiction over the entities and industry sectors that form the IoT device industry.  Additionally, the Commerce study would describe the jurisdiction and expertise of those Federal agencies.  The survey would also identify all interagency activities that are taking place among the Federal agencies as well as all IoT device regulations, guidelines, mandatory and voluntary standards, and other policies implemented by each of the agencies.  Finally, the study would identify the Federal government resources available to consumers and small businesses to help evaluate IoT devices.

Senate Consideration

The House sends the SMART IoT Act to a Senate that appears unlikely to prioritize this bill in the waning days of the 115th Congress.  The Senate has only eleven legislative days left on its calendar for the 115th Congress.  Moreover, the Senate has already passed legislation similar to the SMART IoT Act that the House has yet to act on. 

In August 2017, the Senate passed the DIGIT Act, which would direct Commerce to assemble a working group of federal stakeholders—with input from a committee of industry stakeholders—to provide recommendations and a report to Congress.[2]  By introducing and passing the SMART IoT Act after the Senate had passed the DIGIT Act, the House appears unlikely to consider the DIGIT Act this year unless it is attached to a large omnibus package.

Congress must pass a spending bill by the end of the year and might also pass a farm bill.  Either one of these omnibus bills could carry the SMART IoT Act or the DIGIT Act through Congress to the president’s desk before they expire on January 1, 2019.  Even if these bills expire at the end of the year, they will inform IoT legislation in the 116th Congress along with other IoT bills introduced in the past two years, including the SELF DRIVE Act, the Cyber Shield Act of 2017, and the IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2017.

[1] State of Modern Application, Research, and Trends of IoT Act, H.R. 6023, 115th Cong. (2018).

[2] Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things Act, S. 88, 115th Cong. (2017).

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