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Pallone Statement at Hearing on Internet of Things Devices

Jun 13, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) delivered the following opening remarks at a Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee hearing on “Disrupter Series: Update on IoT Opportunities and Challenges”

Good morning.  Today, this Committee held its second showcase of new and emerging technological products connected to the internet.

The Internet of Things – or IoT – encompasses everything from an internet connected fitness tracking device that counts and records the steps of an exercise-conscious person to a fully autonomous automobile.  And today we had the opportunity to see a range of products that may help consumers in a variety of ways.

I am particularly interested in some of the products that reduce our use of fossil fuels.  Some IoT devices are helping homeowners ensure their homes are more energy efficient.  Building owners are improving the operational efficiencies of escalators and elevators.  As we learned at the Smart Communities hearing, cities are using smart technologies to save precious water resources and reduce energy usage.

In my district, the city of Asbury Park is installing sensors that can remotely control the boardwalk’s lighting, which the city expects will help save money on its electricity bills.  Using less energy means using less fossil fuel.

As we have discussed throughout the disruptor series, technological advances are making financial transactions more convenient and efficient, healthcare more accessible, and our roads more safe.  The Internet of Things has penetrated all sectors of the economy.

And because technological changes have come to all aspects of our lives, we are all faced with the challenges of integrating technology.  In particular, I must mention the challenge of cybersecurity.  At last week’s hearing on healthcare cyber-threats, I highlighted that our critical healthcare systems are at risk for attack.  Our health records are part of the Internet of Things, as are many of our medical devices.  Right now, another one of our subcommittees is having an informational hearing on cybersecurity risks to wireless technologies.  I hope we as a Committee will move beyond the informational review and start considering real legislative solutions such as the Democratic bills that have been introduced to address these problems.

After all, it sounds great to have your food delivered by a robot or drone, but we do not want that robot or drone hacked.  And while sometimes these cybersecurity threats sound like they come from a science fiction movie, incidents like the Russian hacking and the interference of our elections demonstrates that the threat is real.  Creators and manufacturers of internet-connected technology must take responsibility for mitigating this threat.

I implore everyone working in this space, including our distinguished witnesses today, to ensure that cybersecurity and data security are built into your products from day one.  That way, consumers will have the confidence to buy and use these products knowing protections are in place.

Also, be mindful of consumer privacy.  In the age of big data, it is tempting to collect more than you need.  The more you collect, the more you must secure.  Consumers have also repeatedly told us that they want control of who has access to their data.