Public authorities 'must consider trade-offs' before setting Internet of Things regulation

Written by Rebecca Hill on 14 October 2016 in News
News

The government must proceed with caution when considering regulation of the Internet of Things and realise a one-size-fits-all approach may not be appropriate, an academic from a leading IoT research group has said.

Internet of Things technology has huge potential, but regulation involves trade-offs - Photo credit: PIxabay

Irina Brass, a researcher at University College London’s PETRAS IoT research hub, told PublicTechnology that various sector-specific rules, such as health regulations add “layers of complexity” to any regulatory landscape.

Brass was responding to a recent report from research organisation RAND, which looked at how to use policy to support increased use of the IoT.

The RAND report looked at IoT take-up across sectors and identified a number of opportunities and challenges, such as working to increase trust in the security and processes involved with IoT.

It said that there were “mixed perceptions” among IoT innovators of the ability public policy has to accelerate the market, and urged public bodies to consider themselves as strategic purchasers of new technologies.


Related content

Matching vision with investment: How councils can benefit from IoT
Creating smart cities


Overall, Brass said that the review offered a valuable assessment of the challenges of IoT for public service delivery, which looked at a number of essential trade-offs in the system, such as procurement practices, value-for-money and privacy and security considerations.

However, she said that there was more work to be done on the regulatory side, especially when considering one of the report’s statements, that “clear, unambiguous and standardised processes for personal data governance” should be a prerequisite for linking up systems, and making them interoperable and trustworthy.

“There is the need for a more detailed analysis of the current regulatory landscape in which IoT is emerging before prescribing, for instance, clear, unambiguous and standardised processes for personal data governance,” she said.

Brass said her group’s research showed that IoT was emerging in a complex regulatory landscape made up of different rules for governing electronic communications, competition, data protection, security and risk management. On top of this, there are sector-specific rules, such as those around healthcare, to deal with.

“Consequently, a one-size-fits-all approach might be premature at this stage and altogether inappropriate,” Brass said.

For instance, she said, it could be difficult to apply existing data and privacy protection guidelines, such as ‘privacy-by-design’ or ‘security-by-design’, uniformly across an IoT system.

Brass noted that increased security specifications could have major implications on the battery life or affordability of sensors – which are only small units of an IoT system. But, at the same time, vulnerabilities at this unit level could transfer risks across larger parts of the system.

“Consider, also, the costs of regular risk assessments that users of IoT systems have to factor into their business decision-making,” she said.

“It is essential to understand these trade-offs, which derive from the complexity and heterogeneity of the IoT ecosystem, before we can confidently proceed with policy prescriptions.” 

Share this page

Tags

Add new comment

Related Articles

Group chat an indispensable tool within Whitehall
26 June 2017

Group chat services can make civil servants more efficient by reducing email overload. If government does not embrace them, it will lose out

Three London borough councils to co-develop families’ case management ‘app store’
15 June 2017

The London boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster City and Hammersmith and Fulham to create digital tools to improve communication between families and children’s services and allow...

Courts' mobile innovation nominated for national award
5 June 2017

Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service digital tool for ushers is ‘foundation for future innovation’ and sole department nominee in its category

Related Sponsored Articles

Impact of AI on UK jobs market divides opinion, says BT survey
14 June 2017

BT finds that IT Directors disagree over whether Artificial Intelligence will create or displace jobs

How big data is helping to transform the defence sector
8 June 2017

Bill Holford explores how big data is changing modern warfare, and argues for a defence big data strategy to ensure we are making the most of the opportunities ahead

Defence in a digital and disruptive era: innovation in IT
8 June 2017

BT looks at turning points within the UK defence sector, the evolving nature of warfare and how new cyber-attacks pose new questions for our national defence