Senators Urge GAO to Study Internet of Things


Legislators asked the congressional watchdog to assess how the government could benefit from greater connectivity, and the associated challenges.

A bipartisan group of senators that has been urging lawmakers to pay more attention to the Internet of Things is now pushing the Government Accountability Office to study the phenomenon. 

Sens. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., this week co-signed a letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, requesting a GAO study on the Internet of Things -- a term for a network of mobile devices, sensors and other technology. 

In their letter, the senators ask GAO to assess how the government could benefit from greater connectivity, as well as the associated challenges. Their questions include, among others:

  • What is the federal government's experience using the Internet of Things?
  • Do agencies have a strategy to enable the use of the Internet of Things?
  • Are federal agencies coordinating on Internet of Things oversight?
  • What are the implications for consumer privacy and security? 
  • What are the implications for spectrum availability?
  • How are foreign governments using and regulating the Internet of Things? 

"Given the growth in [the Internet of Things] as well as the way new technologies are being embedded in millions of everyday products, a more robust analysis of the challenges and opportunities associated with the [Internet of Things] is needed," the lawmakers wrote in the letter. 

The request to GAO follows the unanimous Senate approval in March of that group of senators' resolution on the Internet of Things, which called on lawmakers to create a national strategy on how to use, and regulate, connectivity. In February, the Senate Commerce Committee held its first full hearing on the Internet of Things, during which discussion focused mainly on potential regulation. 

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