Disagreements in the US Senate subcommittee about cybersecurity IoT policy

30 Apr 2019

The US Senate Subcommittee of Security held a hearing on 30 April to discuss the strengthening of the security of Internet of things (IoT). The industry witnesses were Vice President, Technology & Standards, Consumer Technology Association Michael Bergman; Vice President, Cybersecurity Policy, US Chamber of Commerce Matthew Eggers; Director of Public Policy, Rapid7 Harley Geiger; Senior Vice President for Cybersecurity, US Telecom and Broadband Association Robert Mayer, and Director, Information Technology Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Dr Charles Romine. Most speakers were in favour of the current co-operation between the industry and the NIST, which focuses on creating voluntary baseline standards for IoT devices instead of federal or state regulations. Only Mr. Geiger, as well as, a few members of the committee argued that some governmental involvement might be needed in order to enforce these security standards.

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The Internet of Things (IoT) includes a wide range of Internet-connected devices, from highly digitalised cars, home appliances (e.g. fridges), and smart watches, to digitalised clothes that can monitor health. IoT devices are often connected in wide-systems, typically described as 'smart houses' or 'smart cities'.

Cybersecurity is among the main concerns of governments, Internet users, technical and business communities. Cyberthreats and cyberattacks are on the increase, and so is the extent of the financial loss. 

Yet, when the Internet was first invented, security was not a concern for the inventors. In fact, the Internet was originally designed for use by a closed circle of (mainly) academics. Communication among its users was open.

Cybersecurity came into sharper focus with the Internet expansion beyond the circle of the Internet pioneers. The Internet reiterated the old truism that technology can be both enabling and threatening. What can be used to the advantage of society can also be used to its disadvantage.

Consumer trust is one of the main preconditions for the success of e-commerce. E-commerce is still relatively new and consumers are not as confident with it as with real-world shopping. Consumer protection is an important legal method for developing trust in e-commerce.

 

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