As the Department of Commerce considers a policy role for the U.S. government in the Internet of Things (IoT), the Department of State is studying a dynamic and evolving international environment around IoT, including technical, commercial, and economic issues. Governments and intergovernmental organizations across the world are waking up to the potential of IoT, and some are looking to move quickly in a nascent landscape to establish themselves as leaders for IoT globally. In the process, few are reaching out to industry. Businesses that have begun to embrace IoT should pay close attention to increasing international activity in this area and encourage the adoption of responsible policies that will foster widespread IoT adoption, while being wary of steps toward a more Balkanized approach that will fragment the IoT space.
Many countries are moving aggressively on IoT—establishing national IoT plans and blueprints, investing substantial funding in IoT research and deployments, and launching public-private partnerships to quickly enable IoT scale. At the same time, regional and intergovernmental organizations are staking out early roles on IoT policy and technical issues. The European Commission, for example, has created the Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation (AIOTI) and suggested future regulations on privacy, security, consumer protection, and functioning competition. In addition, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has formed a study group focusing on interoperability and other standards for IoT. These international developments can have far-reaching economic consequences for businesses, governments, and users and help shape the international regulatory environment for IoT going forward.