On October 20, 2014, a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) and Ranking Member John Thune (R-S.D.), requesting that the Committee schedule a “general oversight and information-gathering hearing” on digitally connected technologies before the end of 2014.
The letter, penned by Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hi), stated that the connected devices industry is expected to generate global revenues of $8.9 trillion by 2020, and that its importance would soon be felt by millions of Americans with the “proliferation of connected products” and “the upcoming holiday season.” The industry, however, raises a number of important policy questions in the areas of “consumer protection, security, privacy, technical standards, spectrum capacity, manufacturing, regulatory certainty, and public-sector applications,” the letter said.
The senators recognized that the Federal Trade Commission had already begun tackling issues related to the unique opportunities and challenges presented by connected devices in its Fall 2013 panel on the Internet of Things (see coverage here). Nevertheless, the letter went on, it is time for Congress to “better understand the technologies and explore how best to preserve America’s global leadership position in innovation and economic growth.”
The letter noted that the Senate Commerce Committee was the best vehicle for developing a robust public record on the issues above in light of its authority over the broadband economy and consumer protection. The senators are ultimately seeking “[s]mart policy” addressing the Internet of Things, and brought about by “an open, collaborative process and dialogue” within the Committee.