The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing on February 11, 2015, entitled The Connected World: Examining the Internet of Things.  The panelists included Justin Brookman, director of the Consumer Privacy Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology; Adam Thierer, a senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center; Lance Donny, CEO of OnFarm; Douglas Davis, Vice President and General Manager of Intel’s Internet of Things Group, and Michael Abbott, General Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

While the hearing covered a variety of Internet of Things (IoT) related topics, an overarching theme the Senators contemplated was how to strike the appropriate balance between encouraging IoT innovation and protecting privacy and data security.  The opening statements of Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-FL) laid out the basic concerns underlying each side of this consideration.  Chairman Thune suggested the Committee “tread carefully and thoughtfully before stepping in with a ‘government knows best’ mentality that could halt innovation and growth” while Ranking Member Nelson called talk of overregulating a red herring and stressed that the “promise of the Internet of Things must be balanced with real concerns of privacy and the security of our networks.”  But concern about overregulation cut across party lines.  Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ), for instance, noted that government efforts in the IoT space should not “inhibit a leap in humanity.”
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