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Continuing its tradition of active involvement in digital economy questions, the Department of Commerce’s (DOC) National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) issued a request for public comment on questions posed by the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). The explosive growth of connected products, anticipated to reach 25 billion by 2020, is one reason for the request for comment. The request for comment is intended to reflect the “four pillars” of DOC’s Digital Economy Agenda: promoting a free and open Internet worldwide; promoting trust and confidence online; ensuring Internet access for workers, families and companies; and promoting innovation in the digital economy.

NTIA seeks comment on a range of IoT questions grouped under various headings, including general, technology, infrastructure, policy and international engagement. Questions touch on technical and policy opportunities to promote (or hinder) growth, challenges (including privacy and cybersecurity, impacts on rural communities, etc.), infrastructure needs (interoperability, standards, spectrum, available network infrastructure, etc.) and international engagement. NTIA has previously sponsored several multi-stakeholder workshops, including a current initiative on facial recognition technology, and specifically solicits comment on whether a multi-stakeholder initiative would be useful. After receiving comments, NTIA will use the input to draft a “green paper” identifying key issues affecting deployment of IoT, discussing potential benefits and challenges, and outlining roles for the federal government in advancing IoT technologies in collaboration with the private sector. Comments are due by 5 p.m. ET on May 23, 2016.