June 1, 2016

The Benefits, Challenges, and Potential Roles for the Government in Fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things

Before the National Telecommunications Information Administration
Key materials

My name is Adam Thierer, and I am a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where I study technology policy. Along with other Mercatus Center scholars, I have conducted extensive research on the questions raised in the NTIA’s Internet of Things (IoT) proceeding. 

Accordingly, I am pleased to submit for the record two recently published Mercatus Center articles. The first article is a compendium of statistics on the economic impact of the IoT and wearables that I coauthored with Andrea Castillo. The second is a law review article I authored for the Richmond Journal of Law and Technology last year.

There are two key takeaways from these publications. First, by every measure, the economic benefits associated with IoT adoption will be enormous. Estimates of the total global impact of IoT technologies range from $2.7 trillion to $14.4 trillion in new economic value by 2025.

Second, those amazing benefits will only come about if America gets public policy right for this exciting new set of technologies. The Internet revolution was powered by “permissionless innovation”—the idea that experimentation with new technologies and business models should generally be permitted without prior approval. By embracing the same vision for IoT, the United States can incentivize IoT innovation and also make it more likely that the next generation of tech entrepreneurs launch those devices and services domestically. 

The Mercatus Center has also recently published a book and paper that present a blueprint for how to make permissionless innovation the foundation of tech policy going forward, including for the Internet of Things and “smart” technologies. We hope these publications will be of assistance as the NTIA studies these important issues.