The presence of policy makers and regulators in the world of M2M has not been irrelevant. The role, at least inspirational, of the EU eCall Directive for the automotive sector is widely recognised. Certainly, the endless story of the implementation of the eCall has become a sort of saga that has created uncertainty in the industry. In the story of the eCall, we can then see the positive and the negative sides of the policy making process and regulatory process involvement in technology development and deployment. Policy and regulation can become strong driver, but also strong inhibitor if the process becomes long, tedious, and entrenched into excessive bureaucratic, and sometimes, political mechanisms.
However, as the Internet of Things is showing its transformative potential of industries and society strongly impacting our lives, the debate of the role of policy becomes more relevant. It is not simply about acting on specific sectors – automotive with eCall, energy with smart metering and others – but it goes beyond that looking into interconnection of systems. The IoT creates system of systems impacting modi operandi in all the systems and interconnecting those modus operandi. That interconnection is based on data. It has been said in the IoT policy debate that “data is the infrastructure”[i]. In this systemic scenario and assuming that the role of policy is important in the future of the IoT (here not necessarily there is consensus), the question is: what type of policy framework is necessary for the IoT? And an even more radical question is: is the current policy making process equipped to respond to the transformation brought by the IoT vision? The different pace of development between technology and policy making process has been evident in the recent years (see policy making organisations chasing the rapid development in social media). The IoT, being based on a set of rapid developing technology, will exacerbate that difference unless the current debate on IoT policy will discuss necessary changes of the policy making process at any level.
Despite those fundamental questions, the current debate around IoT policies is moving around the following lines:
- If “data is the infrastructure”, data will influence all kinds of economic, social, and civic activity, therefore, data security in the IoT becomes crucial. How do we enable security in the IoT? And what policy initiatives are required? Topics of discussions are security by design and security standards.
- As a consequence of the previous point, the debate on data privacy is obviously very relevant.
- Defining policy framework for supporting adoption and diffusion of Internet of Things strategies in organisations with particular attention on small and medium enterprises.
- Defining policy framework for supporting research, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the Internet of Things.
- Defining policy framework around the Internet of Things in specific sectors (see Industry 4.0 in German, Smart Factory in the EU, Farming 4.0 in Germany and so on).
- The development of the IoT should be designed with the objective to ensure sustainable development, ensure accessibility for the disabled and underserved, and encourage civic and democratic participation.
- Further themes revolve around the relationships between humans and connected spaces. Is there a right to be not connected in intelligent spaces?
[i] Ellen P. Goodman. The Atomic Age of Data: Policies for the Internet of Things. Report of the 29th Annual Aspen Institute Conference on Communications Policy. The Aspen Institute