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House Digital Subcommittee Approves IoT Bill

The House Digital Commerce Subcommittee has favorably reported a bipartisan bill that Subcommittee chair Bob Latta (R-Ore.) called an important first step in setting internet of things (IoT) policy.

The bill, H.R. 6032, State of Modern Application, Research, and Trends of IoT (or SMART IoT) Act, now will proceed to a markup in the full committee.

Latta said Wednesday (June 13) at the markup meeting that because IoT is pretty much ubiquitous, it is tough to know who is doing what, both in government and the private sector. The bill aims to change what he called a lack of collaboration and dialog, which creates unnecessary barriers.

Related: Congressional Group Takes a Closer Look at IoT's 'Disruptor' Factors

He said the SMART IoT Act would try to answer the "who is doing what" question and, on a government level, promote interagency discussions and avoid conflicting and duplicative regulations that could slow innovation. On an industry levek, he said, the bill would highlight industry self-regulation and provide a one-stop shop of best practices and standards.

The bill would require Commerce to survey the IoT devices available and examine the federal government's role.

Related: Wearables Lead Consumer IoT Charge

Subcommittee ranking member Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said the survey should serve as the "foundation of any future legislative efforts to ensure that connected devices are deployed to the benefit of consumers."

Schakowsky said the bill was a bipartisan product of a series of hearings and discussions on issues that should continue to inform the process, including privacy, security and safety. She praised the bipartisan nature of those discussions, but noted it was the first markup (the process by which bills are voted, or not, out of subcommittee) this year, and that the committee was leaving major consumer protection issues unresolved, "most notably, consumer privacy and security legislation" in the wake of the Facebook privacy issues and other "scandals."

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The bill stems from a bipartisan IoT working group helmed by Latta and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.)

House Energy & Commerce Committee ranking member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) pointed to some changes in the bill, including no longer requiring Commerce to come up with a list of all the industry sectors using IoT (given that that is about all of them anyway).

While Pallone said he was glad to support the bill, the committee did not need to wait for the bill to address the issues of data security and privacy.