Several United States Senators are looking to introduce a new bill that's meant to alleviate various failings of the Internet of Things (IoT) market, Democrat Mark Warner told Reuters, adding that the legislation should be added to the Congress's agenda later today. The initiative is bipartisan in nature, being sponsored by Warner and his colleague Ron Wyden while also having support from Republican Senators Steve Daines and Cory Gardner. The initial draft of the bill was created with assistance from industry experts from the Harvard University and Atlantic Council, Warner said.
The group intends to regulate the IoT segment in a relatively light manner, with the bill itself primarily being meant to provide original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) with an incentive to put a specific focus on security while designing new products and services and won't seek to affect other parts of the industry, according to Warner. The legislation is being introduced following years of warnings from various cyber security experts who repeatedly claimed that contemporary IoT devices aren't protected in a sufficient manner, thus being vulnerable to a broad range of attack avenues, many of which are designed to turn them into botnets, networks of infected Internet-enabled hardware used for conducting large-scale attacks. While describing the upcoming bill proposal, Warner referred to the current state of IoT security as an "obvious market failure" that regulators need to address before its issues become even more pronounced in the future and compromise a larger number of Americans.
The exact contents of the bill have yet to be released, though its main provision would put stricter oversight over all contractors of the U.S. government that supply the administration with any Internet-enabled hardware. The proposal also seeks to protect consumers by encouraging white hat hacking and related research that can help identify unknown security flaws of IoT devices. The bill is also said to contain a number of security-related guidelines for all federal agencies, though their specifics are yet to be revealed. The proposal could theoretically be enacted by early 2018, though it remains to be seen how it fares under parliamentary scrutiny in the coming months.