FTC Bows Out Of IOT Conference Amid Shutdown

Attendees at a high-level summit to discuss the fast-emerging Internet of Things in Washington D.C. were informed that a scheduled talk by Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairwoman Edith Ramirez would not take place because of a U.S. Government shutdown that began at Midnight.

Ramirez was scheduled to address the 2013 M2M & Internet of Things Global Summit on Tuesday morning on “The FTC’s Interest in the Internet of Things,” but conference attendees told The Security Ledger that Ramirez was forced to cancel her talk because of a government shutdown.

“Attendees were told she could not give it due to the shutdown,” said Torrey Barrett, a marketing professional attending the event, reported via Twitter.

Ramirez was scheduled to speak at 9:00 AM on Tuesday as one of a series of keynote speakers, just after Michael Nelson (@MikeNelson), Microsoft’s Principal Technology Policy Strategist and just ahead of Chris Vein, a former deputy CTO of the White House and now Chief Innovation Officer at The World Bank.

Her agency has taken a lead role in addressing some of the consumer issues raised by the growing population of Internet-connected devices. It has solicited public feedback on the privacy and security of IoT. And, most recently, the FTC settled a complaint against TRENDnet, a maker of home security cameras. The FTC had charged the Torrance, California company with misrepresenting the security of its products.

The Summit, which is being held at the National Press Club, was intended to bring together leaders from government and industry to talk about issues such as building trust and confidence in Internet of Things. Alas, a political stalemate over a continuing resolution to fund government operations that erupted between Republicans in the House of Representatives and the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, has prompted a government shutdown, which made it impossible for Ramirez and other federal government employees from attending.

The shutdown also threatens to keep Mark Eichorn, an Assistant Director of the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection at the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, from participating in an afternoon panel on “Building Trust and Confidence” in the IoT, according to a blog post by the panel’s moderator, W. David Stephenson.

The no-shows were a fitting symbol of Washington D.C.’s paralysis in the face of the pressing problems (and opportunities) for the U.S. economy. New legislation to address critical issues such as cybercrime and data privacy have been on hold for years, despite loud calls from the private and public sectors for reform. as Congress has squabbled over highly symbolic issues ranging from raising the U.S. debt ceiling to the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya.

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