Net neutrality, science-based policy are threatened. A maximalist IP approach looms.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump will now become the 45th president, succeeding President Barack Obama.
"I say it is time for us to come together as one people," Trump, the president-elect, told supporters in New York, shortly after Clinton called him to concede the election.
Here is where Trump stands on the issues near and dear to Ars:
Broadband, net neutrality
Trump’s presidency could bring big changes to regulation of Internet service providers—but most of the changes are difficult to predict because Trump rarely discussed telecom policy during his campaign. The Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules could be overturned or weakened, however, if Trump still feels the same way he did in 2014. At the time, he tweeted, “Obama’s attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target conservative media.”
Trump has promised "a temporary moratorium on new agency regulations," and he would like the FCC to fine journalists who are critical of him. Trump seems likely to take a deregulatory approach to telecom, benefiting Internet service providers who protested various new rules implemented under Democratic FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Aside from net neutrality, Trump hasn't discussed any specific telecom regulations that he’d like to change.
Trump also hasn’t laid out any plans for expanding broadband access, so Americans hoping for improvements will likely have to rely on state and local governments or the private sector.
With Trump's win, it's still not clear what a Trump administration would do on the issues of cybersecurity and encryption. As Ars reported last month, Trump and his campaign team have been vague on many such details. During the presidential debates, he brushed off the intelligence community's consensus that the attacks against the Democratic National Committee were perpetrated or silently condoned by the Russian government. But Trump did call for a boycott of Apple—a boycott he didn't even abide by—during Cupertino's fight with federal prosecutors about whether Apple should be forced to help the authorities unlock a killer's encrypted iPhone.
Like most of his other policies, Trump's cybersecurity plan remains thin. It calls for an "immediate review of all US cyber defenses and vulnerabilities, including critical infrastructure, by a Cyber Review Team of individuals from the military, law enforcement, and the private sector."
Trump's presidency, by some accounts, is likely to be a disaster for science. Most analyses of his proposed budgets indicate they will cause deficits to explode, and a relatively compliant Congress could mean at least some of these cuts will get enacted. That will force the government to figure out how to cut, or at least limit, spending.
Will science funding be preserved during that process? Trump has given no indication that it would. Instead, many of his answers about specific areas on science focus on the hard choices that need to be made in light of budget constraints. With the exception of NASA, Trump hasn't identified any areas of science that he feels are worth supporting.
More generally, Trump has indicated little respect for the findings of science. He has openly repeated the long and frequently debunked suggestion that vaccines can induce autism. And he's said that the climate consensus generated by the international scientific community is little more than a plot by the Chinese to hamper other economies. And his science policy plans, where they exist, completely reflect this disdain. For energy, he plans to do the exact opposite of what would be required to address climate change, and he plans to seek a wholesale culling of federal regulation regardless of whether there's a scientific basis for the rules.
In short, a Trump administration would mean a crippled US research effort and politics that are based on short-term economic interests rather than science.
A Trump presidency also carries many unknowns when it comes to space policy specifically. However, in his official campaign statements and in a pair of op-eds written by surrogates, Trump has struck a pro-commercialism viewpoint toward civil spaceflight.
"Public-private partnerships should be the foundation of our space efforts," Bob Walker and Peter Navarro, senior policy advisers to the Republican nominee, wrote in a Space News op-ed in October. "Such partnerships offer not only the benefit of reduced costs, but the benefit of partners capable of thinking outside of bureaucratic structures and regulations."
Privately, space policy sources close to the Trump campaign have told Ars there is little organized activity surrounding spaceflight matters. But they agree that it seems likely that the Trump administration will take a hard look at costly NASA programs such as the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft, which could be replaced by cheaper, private alternatives.
Trump has no published policies on copyrights or patents and has said little about them. That said, a few things make tech advocates nervous. Trump has close ties to the entertainment world, and he is surrounded by people who have a more maximalist view of copyright. He's also taken positions that suggest his overall view on Internet freedoms wouldn't mesh with copyright reformers. Trump has even talked about "closing" the Internet as a way to fight ISIS, and he said he would "open up" libel laws.
Trump has additionally been silent on patents. His vice-presidential pick, Mike Pence, was close to a group of House Republicans who mostly opposed patent reform.
The Republican candidate said in 1990 that he favored legalization of all drugs. Speaking of the war on drugs at the time, he said, "You have to legalize drugs to win that war."
Over time, Trump's thinking has apparently changed and has waffled. In October 2015, he was quoted in The Washington Post as saying: "In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state." But he told the O'Reilly Factor last February that "dealers" were going to "load up" on marijuana and sell it around the country if marijuana was legalized in Colorado. He told O'Reilly that he favored medical marijuana but not the recreational use of it.
It remains to be seen if Trump would turn a blind eye to the states' experiments with medical and recreational marijuana, as did President Obama. A non-marijuana-friendly president could demand that federal agents raid marijuana farms and dispensaries. That's because marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
Ars staffers Eric Berger, Jon Brodkin, Cyrus Farivar, Joe Mullin, and John Timmer contributed to this report.