The Senate sponsors of the DIGIT Act may have the right idea when it comes to IoT, but advocacy groups warn many thorny security and privacy issues lurk. Steve Zurier reports.
President Donald J. Trump has only been in office for a short time, and with so many contentious issues, it's hard to believe anything constructive – or dare we say “bipartisan” – could ever get accomplished.
But when it comes to the Internet of Things, the Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things (DIGIT) Act may yet see the light of day.
The DIGIT Act has support from both sides of the aisle. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Corey Booker (D-N.J.), Corey Gardner (R-Colo.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) reintroduced the bill on Jan. 10 and by Jan. 24 the Senate Commerce Committee marked it up and quickly passed it.
Now, the DIGIT Act awaits a hearing before the full Senate. When? Nobody really knows for sure.
Not to be too snarky, but the bill includes little or no controversy. The bill would convene a working group of diverse federal agencies that would consult with private sector experts over an unspecified time and deliver recommendations to Congress.
So it's perfect. Consider this Washington's attempt at business as usual in a most extraordinary time. All the DIGIT Act does right now is call for a working group to convene and consider the security, privacy and spectrum issues surrounding IoT.
Who could possibly be against that? None of the politicians have actually proposed anything too specific – at least not yet.
All kidding aside, IoT became a hot-button issue in the aftermath of the attack on DNS provider Dyn late last year, when IoT devices became a launching pad for an attack that shut down high-profile sites such as Amazon, Twitter and PayPal. While the DIGIT Act was proposed much earlier last year and various hearings on IoT were held throughout 2016, the sense of urgency to get something done – and for the government to have a role in making IoT policy – was stepped-up following the Dyn attack. And for good reason. Most security experts fear that it's only a matter of time that the nation's critical infrastructure experiences some form of IoT attack – many think it will be as soon as this year.