The Governance Dimension of the Internet of Things

29 September 2011 - A Workshop on Critical Internet Resources in Nairobi, Kenya

Agenda

While there is still a discussion, what the concept of the” Internet of Things” means in practice, the real process of connecting objects equipped with RFID chips to the Internet via an IPv6 address continues to move forward. The market is growing and so growths the debate about the governance implications of the “Internet of Things”. The European Commission has established a “Task Force on the Internet of Things” and the European Parliament has published a report about the issue in 2010. Among the key issues under consideration is whether an “Internet of Things” needs a governance mechanisms and, if yes, how such a mechanism should be designed. Other key issues are privacy, security and the idea to introduce a “right to silence the chip”. But In more general terms the Internet of Things goes beyond the identification of objects. It refers to the management of information represented in digital form about objects, whether physical or not. In this context, a DNS-centric system like ONS is but one existing way to do this. There are other systems that provide
enhanced capabilities and enable management of information represented in digital form more generally.

Agenda:
• Introduction: Internet of Things - Political and legal challenges of tomorrow, Wolfgang Kleinwächter, University of Aarhus, Euro-NF
• Internet of Things: The strategy of the European Commission; Megan Richards, Director, European Commission, DG InfoSoc, Brussels;
• The governance and privacy dimension of the Internet of Things: GOVPIMIT experience; Avri Doria
• Setting the scene: Where we are? What we want to do?

o The European perspective: Bernard Benhamou, French Ministry for Higher Research,
o The US Perspective: Fiona Alexander, US Department of Commerce
o The providers perspective: Massimiliano Minisci, GS1 Global
o The business Perspective: Joe Alhadeff, Orcale
o The technological perspective: Patrik Fältström, IETF

• IoT: Planning for the Future, Dan Caprio, McKenna Long & Aldrige LLP, Washington (remote panellist)
• Looking forward: Enabling Interoperability of Heterogeneous Information Systems in the Internet (including IoT); Bob Kahn & Patrice Lyons, CNRI.

Moderation: Wolfgang Kleinwächter, University of Aarhus, EURO-NF

 

 

A brief substantive summary and the main events that were raised:
The Workshop on The Governance Dimension of the Internet of Things assembled 10 prestigious speakers (see list) and was moderated by Wolfgang Kleinwächter, the spiritus rector of various initiatives on the Internet of Things. At the beginning it was reiterated that the Internet Governance discussions comes from a very different angle and corner than the IoT discourse.
According to the agenda, the WS debate was divided into various parts and aspects: strategy of the EU Commission, governance and privacy dimension, European versus the US perspective besides stakeholder perspectives (providers, business and technological). There are still some vague ideas and perceptions about the concept of the IoT, what it means in practice while developments and processes of connecting objects equipped with RFID chips to the Internet via an IPv6 address is continuously moving forward. While some (academic) circles are still discussing about basics and requirements, architecture and interoperability etc., the European Commission has established a Task Force on the IoT and the European Parliament has published a report about the issue in 2010.

 

Conclusions and further comments:
The WS presentations and discourse showed that there is still a need for various clarifications: key issues still under consideration are whether an IoT needs governance mechanisms and how such a mechanism should be designed? Other key issues to be considered are privacy, security, political and legal challenges. For some sectors (like transport, logistics, stock and supply management, energy etc.) the advantages and applications may be more evident or rewarding, social and cultural impacts of the IoT are still unverified. The Internet of Things goes beyond the mere identification of objects. It refers to the management of information represented in digital form about objects, whether physical or not. The expert debate on the IoT is needed and useful for basic clarifications and conceptualising on the subject however needs to be broadened into other fields of society. A user or consumer perspective on the parameter of the IoT is overdue. But Wolfgang Kleinwächter and other experts are guarantors for following up and some more debates on the issue.