U.S. Congress Finally Gets Some Good Ideas About IoT Security

Proposed legislation lays out sensible security guidelines, though there’s room for
 improvement

3 min read
illustration of looking down at seated congress members
Illustration: Jude Buffum

illustration of looking down at seated congress membersIllustration: Jude Buffum

In 2016, attacks such as the Mirai botnet took down several popular websites, and in doing so, brought attention to the need for security for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Since then, the U.S. Congress has made attempts to pass legislation around IoT security, including a lame attempt in 2017, when senators introduced a bill that would prevent the government from buying connected devices that had one of a small number of glaring security flaws. Once again, Congress is trying to pass legislation, but this time around, there’s more to like in the bill.

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How the FCC Settles Radio-Spectrum Turf Wars

Remember the 5G-airport controversy? Here’s how such disputes play out

11 min read
This photo shows a man in the basket of a cherry picker working on an antenna as an airliner passes overhead.

The airline and cellular-phone industries have been at loggerheads over the possibility that 5G transmissions from antennas such as this one, located at Los Angeles International Airport, could interfere with the radar altimeters used in aircraft.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images
Blue

You’ve no doubt seen the scary headlines: Will 5G Cause Planes to Crash? They appeared late last year, after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration warned that new 5G services from AT&T and Verizon might interfere with the radar altimeters that airplane pilots rely on to land safely. Not true, said AT&T and Verizon, with the backing of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which had authorized 5G. The altimeters are safe, they maintained. Air travelers didn’t know what to believe.

Another recent FCC decision had also created a controversy about public safety: okaying Wi-Fi devices in a 6-gigahertz frequency band long used by point-to-point microwave systems to carry safety-critical data. The microwave operators predicted that the Wi-Fi devices would disrupt their systems; the Wi-Fi interests insisted they would not. (As an attorney, I represented a microwave-industry group in the ensuing legal dispute.)

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