Elon University

Breakout Panel Session – Everything Connected: Managing the Opportunities and Risks of the Internet of Things and Big Data

Brief session description:

Thursday, July 14, 2016 – The global potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) is enormous. In order for it to succeed, we must be able to manage the opportunities and risks associated with protecting IoT privacy and security while enabling innovation. Within IGF, the IoT Dynamic Coalition has been active proposing a global framework for the IoT. This dialogue will assess the U.S. IoT strategy to realize the promise of the Internet of Things. You can read a written account and view video highlights on this page or watch the full, archived session here.

Details of the session:

The session was moderated by Dan Caprio, co-founder and chairman of The Providence Group. Panelists included:

  • Michelle De Mooy, acting director, Privacy and Data Project, Center for Democracy and Technology
  • Alan Davidson, director of digital economy, U.S. Department of Commerce and senior advisor to the Secretary of Commerce
  • Jeff Brueggeman, vice president for global public policy, AT&T
  • Ryan Hagemann, technology and civil liberties policy analyst, Niskanen Center
  • Dean Garfield, president/CEO, Information Technology Industry Council

Participants in this panel unanimously agreed that the future of the Internet of Things must be defined through multistakeholder processes.

“You can’t just have only companies or only governments try to solve these issues,” said Jeff Brueggeman, vice president for global public policy at AT&T.

The Internet of Things is incredibly complex and its complexity is being magnified daily. It is a newly emerging ecosystem that encompasses a large and changing variety of different devices in overlapping systems with different operations and impacts. This raises many difficult questions that are impossible for any one group to address.

Panel moderator Dan Caprio, co-founder of The Providence Group, captured this in his opening statement.

“The Internet of Things is in its early phase and is still evolving,” Caprio said. “It’s not good or bad. It’s agnostic. It’s really a question of how we use it.”

Complexity breeds uncertainty over how to develop the Internet of Things (often referred to as IoT). How it is ultimately shaped will have significant impact on the ways in which society reaps the rewards.

Davidson and DeMooy Speaking at IGF Photo“We have a keen belief that if we do not, as a society, address the challenges that are coming with the Internet of Things, we won’t always realize the benefits,” said Alan Davidson, director of digital economy at the U.S. Commerce Department.

Productive possibilities abound for Internet of Things

Among the foreseeable opportunities in the development of the IoT panelists envision are economic growth, increased productivity and greater inclusion, especially – they say – if innovative conversations continue.

Because of its huge potential to evolve Brueggeman and other panelists advised it would be best not to predetermine too much too early; to leave the door open to innovation in an open system.

“Let’s establish the proactive principles we want included in the Internet of Things,” said Brueggeman, “but let’s be really flexible in how we achieve that.”

Garfield Speaking at IGF PhotoDean Garfield, president and CEO of ITI, said there are unpredictable opportunities yet to come from the IoT, so it’s important not to risk hindering or restricting its evolution.

“It is more than a next generation of the Internet,” Garfield said. “It’s the next evolution of humanity. There will be industries that we can’t even imagine that will get created, and there will be industries that are prolific today that won’t exist.”

Ryan Hagemann, technology and civil liberties policy analyst of the Niskanen Center, agreed that leaving room for innovation is vital.

“Flexibility for the future is going to be key here because this is a dynamic and evolving ecosystem,” he noted.

What can be done in the present?

Panelists said it is important, however, to lay the groundwork to assure major ethical and legal issues are discussed early and often, including privacy, transparency, security, ethics and representation.

Michelle DeMooy, acting director for the Privacy and Data Project of the Center for Democracy and Technology, addressed the importance of ethics and attention to privacy when it comes to the data companies are able to gather through the Internet of Things.

Internet of Things Panel IGF Photo“We want companies in this space to see themselves as stewards of [the public’s] data,” DeMooy said, adding that companies shouldn’t assume they are owners of data.

Despite the many concerns discussed, Garfield was enthusiastic about the potential future for the IoT.

“The Internet of Things will be completely transformative,” he said. “We have the opportunity to make [the Internet] better. Whether it is better or not will be dependent on us. Conversations like this are incredibly meaningful and I hope you stay engaged.”

Hagemann agreed and said he thinks people should remain positive and see the best in human progress.

“I like to think that the future is going to be better than the present,” he added.

– By Anna Zwingelberg

Click here to return to IGF-USA 2016 homepage.

The multimedia reporting team for Imagining the Internet at IGF-USA 2016 included the following Elon University School of Communications students, staff and faculty:

Bryan Anderson, Janna Anderson, Bryan Baker, Elizabeth Bilka, Ashley Bohle, Courtney Campbell, Colin Donohue, Melissa Douglas, Mackenzie Dunn, Maya Eaglin, Christina Elias, Rachel Ellis, Caroline Hartshorn, Paul LeBlanc, Emmanuel Morgan, Joey Nappa, Diego Pineda Davila, Alyssa Potter, Kailey Tracy, Andrew Steinitz, Anna Zwingelberg