Trump Wins: What does it mean for IoT?

Donald Trump did not focus on a tech agenda, but when Trump takes office, his administration will face a critical time for innovation, including in IoT.  We are on the cusp of an explosion of devices and connectivity, putting tech law and policy front and center in 2017.  While we can draw limited inferences from candidate Trump’s discussions of burdensome regulation, it is likely that the new Administration will defer to Congressional thought-leaders on both sides of the aisle who have been thinking about IoT.

Our IoT group has identified several issues a Trump Administration will most likely be called upon to consider:

Spectrum. Unprecedented device connectivity requires bandwidth and the spectrum to support it.  The FCC has been working overtime to free up appropriate spectrum for 5G uses, and the federal government must continue to prioritize this.

Infrastructure.  But for people and their devices to use that spectrum, we need ample infrastructure: more, smaller antennas throughout our cities, towns and population centers.  State and local governments need to put out the welcome mat for wireless, and the federal government should look for creative ways to promote deployment. FCC Commissioner Pai has been calling for action on this.  President-Elect Trump mentioned infrastructure in his victory speech last night and communications infrastructure is vital.

Security and Privacy Regulation.  When it comes to IoT devices and services, the government has been raising concerns about privacy and security. The recent DDoS attack using IoT has people concerned.  Interest in IoT the federal government has accelerated, across an alphabet soup of agencies.  The Department of Homeland Security has signaled it will treat IoT as a homeland security threat.  In a new administration, NTIA and others may exercise humility as urged by key Influencers on the Hill.  Indeed, Senator John Thune (R-SD) suggested that government “tread carefully and thoughtfully before stepping in with a ‘government knows best’ mentality that could halt innovation and growth.”  And Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ) has cautioned that government should not “inhibit a leap in humanity” that can come from IoT.  Various working groups and caucuses have sprung up to address IoT, and industry needs to engage and educate them.

Risk of Fragmentation.  States have been getting involved in aspects of IoT, with guidance under their data security and privacy regimes for various sectors from educational technology to mobile device theft solutions. Disparate approaches and regulatory burdens at the state level can slow innovation and burden business.  The new administration may consider how to avoid [such fragmentation by urging the adoption of a federal preemptive framework].

Vulnerabilities and Liabilities.  Researchers and companies are grappling with how to define, handle and mitigate software and hardware vulnerabilities.  Companies fear litigation and liability, and those fears are legitimized by pending lawsuits over claimed vulnerabilities.  Some opportunists have used product flaws to short companies’ stock.  The government should look for ways to reduce those concerns, which can free up energy to take risks and innovate.

International Leadership.  As my colleague Umair Javed has previously noted, international efforts on IoT present opportunity and peril.  The United States can take a leadership role and promote U.S. innovation and leadership.

As policymakers and industry react to this election IoT should be on the agenda.


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