The Atomic Age of Data: Policies for the Internet of Things

83 Pages Posted: 12 May 2015 Last revised: 21 May 2015

Date Written: May 11, 2015


This report I authored for the Aspen Institute explores policy challenges for advancing the promise and mitigating the risks of the Internet of Things (IoT). The report begins by describing the distinctive features of the IoT and mapping its applications and architecture. Its policy examination and recommendations fall into six principal areas of focus: Privacy; Data as Infrastructure; Equity, Inclusion, and Opportunity; Civic Engagement; Telecommunications Networks; and Security. The Report explores some of these policy questions in the context of the “smart city” use case.

Recommendations include: -- Treat IoT data itself as infrastructure – an essential building block for all kinds of economic, social, and civic activity; -- Design-in security controls that reduce threats to connected devices and systems, and ensure that these security controls can be kept current; -- Design-in privacy controls that minimize collection of personally identifiable information and effectuate Fair Information Practice Principles; -- Promote broad accessibility of data and data analytics, which will require interoperable standards in many parts of the IoT ecosystem; -- Government should promote adoption and diffusion of technology, including building out IoT capabilities when it invests in infrastructure (known as a “dig once” proposal); -- IoT systems should ensure accessibility for the disabled and underserved through inclusion by design; The IoT should act as a vehicle for citizen participation and empowerment; -- Government should promote common standards for smart cities and other applications; -- Government should use procurement powers and regulatory powers to promote privacy and security.

Keywords: Internet of Things, IoT, privacy, innovation, technology, smart city, Internet, communications, standards, interoperability, civic inclusion, broadband adoption

Suggested Citation

Goodman, Ellen P., The Atomic Age of Data: Policies for the Internet of Things (May 11, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Ellen P. Goodman (Contact Author)

Rutgers Law ( email )

217 N. 5th Street
Camden, NJ 08102
United States
856-225-6393 (Phone)
856-225-6516 (Fax)

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