Internet of Things - Challenges, Policy and Development

23 October 2013 - A Workshop on Access in Bali, Indonesia

Internet Governance Forum 2013

Workshop # 40 Report

Internet of Things - Challenges, Policy and Development

Organizer Name 

Hoferichter Sandra

Organizer Entity 

Medienstadt Leipzig e.V.

Workshop Theme 

The Internet as an Engine for Growth and Advancement

Consise description 


The IoT is a highly promising economic sector for sustainability, growth, innovation and employment which will have also social impacts and affects public policy Internet Governance issues as managing critical resources (identifiers), privacy, security and competition law. It is closely linked to the development of new Internet applications, the mobile Internet and cloud computing. The workshop will discuss how the future development of IOT can become an engine for growth and development, in particular in developing countries where mobile communication has allowed leapfrogging in selected areas of the emerging Internet economy. At the same time, countries with developing economies face critical challenges that can be addressed using solutions based on M2M communications and smart technology solutions. Examples of such applications will be presented. The workshop will also discuss what kind of policies and what type of regulations are needed to promote the exploitation of the potential of innovative IOT applications by recognizing risks and threats, in particular for privacy and security. The epitome of the workshop is intended to enable the IGF IOT Dynamic Coalition to draft an “IOT agenda 2015” and a work plan for next steps and future activities.



The session will look into the following issues and questions: 1. The Definition of IOT: A special sector or just another application? 2. The Opportunity of IOT: Are there emerging new markets? 3. The Governance of IOT: Is there a need for any special rules or mechanisms? 4. Privacy in the IOT: How to make sure that high data protection standards are implemented in IOT applications?


Wolfgang Kleinwächter, University of Aarhus

Remote Moderator 

Sandra Hoferichter, Medienstadt Leipzig e.V.

Have you organized workshops at previous IGFs?


Workshop format 


Brief substantive summary of the workshop and presentation of the main issues that were raised during the discussions 


The workshop provided a very good geographical balance. Most regions in the world where included on the panel and in the audience. Also the interaction with the audience was remarkable and fostered a dynamic discussion.


The IoT, with over 50 Billion objects to be connected, is considered the next big issue, with a greater impact than what we know about “Big Data” so far. Although the term IoT is not ideal, as it does not reflect the human component, the community will most likely remain with this name because it is used for quite a long term.


Most participants agreed that a new governance structure or addressing system is not needed, but traffic and volume might become a problem, although IPv6 provides a sufficient address space. But it will be just added to the existing Internet.


Legal and practical issues, which we don’t know yet in detail, must be resolved in the future, in particular all consumer rights related topics. It must be organised in a global system, because the products are global. Also some issues will likely to be decided on a case by case basis, taking into account the impact on the users security and privacy. The car was mentioned many times as an example, i.e. 

  • What happens if the car crosses borders, on which network provider is it then?
  • Will the driver be charged roaming fees?
  • How will be dealt with different privacy legislation?
  • How do we secure the different parts of the car (i.e. entertainment system vs. engine)?


From participants of developing countries the IoT is seen as a great opportunity for economic growth and a social development, like utilisation of water for instance.


Participants raised also some concerns and fears like:

  • IoT does not look at the human dimension yet
  • We are losing control of practical issues
  • It creates dependencies
  • Such systems are working in other foras already (like the logistic industry) but we are not connected to these discussions


Conclusions drawn from the workshop and further comments 


1.     IOT offers a lot of new opportunities but those opportunities include also risks which needs a reasonable risk assessment

2.     IOT is just an extension of existing Internet services and does not constitute a "new Internet" or does not need a "clean slate approach".

3.     There is no need for new IOT policy / governance institutions or top down policies. Needed policies should be developed bottom up in an open and transparent way and on a case by case basis, where needed.

4.     Public policy issues, which need reconsideration in the light of new IO services include privacy, security, competition and consumer protection.

5.     There is a need to promote and enhance communication and cooperation among the various technical, business, civil society and governmental groups which discuss so far IOT applications in isolated circles without taking into consideration interests and values of other stakeholders.

6.     There is a need to base future discussions and policy developments on fact and not on fears.


Reported by 

Sandra Hoferichter

Estimate the overall number of women participants present at the session 

About half of the participants were women

To what extent did the session discuss gender equality and/or women's empowerment? 

It was not seen as related to the session theme and was not raised

Discussion affecting gender equality and women's empowerment 


I must admit I find this gender, geographical and stakeholder group questions rather strange. Whilst I fully support the approach of being inclusive I think the way this questioner was set up is not usable.  It is impossible to find out where participants are coming from and to what stakeholder group they belong to having around 100 participants in the room. We should not waste the time of volunteers!


Workshops Staticals 
Number of FEMALE participantsNumber of MALE participantsNumber of Young participantsNumber of Developing Countries ParticipantsNumber of Developed Countries ParticipantsNumber of LDCs participantsNumber of TOTAL Participants
6 6 5 30 50 10 12