Privacy and Security Standards are Crucial to the Success of the Internet of Things

Today it seems like you can't browse a tech website or listen to a corporate CEO speak without hearing about the Internet of Things. And for good reason. As many commentators argue, the Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to dramatically reshape our daily lives, bringing convenience and efficiency that otherwise would have been limited to the realm of science fiction. 

However like all major innovations, the Internet of Things carries risks – particularly when it comes to privacy and security – and in recent weeks, several articles and organizations have highlighted the need for universally-recognized standards. We believe that it is absolutely crucial for all IoT-related standards to incorporate privacy and information security provisions to protect consumers.

The Internet of Things will require universally-recognized standards to function smoothly. Several organizations, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), are actively engaged in developing the technical standards necessary to get the Internet of Things off the ground. Additionally, two weeks ago the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a report highlighting the crucial role of accurate timing systems in ensuring interoperability.

Technical standards developed today will only become more ubiquitous and foundational as additional standards and innovations are built upon them. We will save ourselves significant headaches down the road if we start incorporating privacy and security protections into IoT-connected devices and systems now, instead of attempting to incorporate such protections after the fact.

So far this year, Congress has held two hearings on the Internet of Things: The Senate Commerce Committee's "The Connected World: Examining the Internet of Things" hearing and the House Energy and Commerce Committee's "The Internet of Things: Exploring the Next Technology Frontier" hearing. On March 24, following its own hearing on the matter, the Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution (S. Res. 110) calling for a national strategy to guide the development of the Internet of Things.

While some senators and representatives appeared genuinely concerned about the fate of privacy and information security in the Internet of Things, the Senate resolution failed to mention either of these issues. Policymakers should channel the public's overwhelming desire for secure devices and systems towards the innovators and technologists developing the Internet of Things, and make clear that now is the time to lay the foundation for robust privacy and security protections.

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