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EnlargeAurich Lawson | Justin Sullivan,Spencer Platt/Getty Images reader comments 21 Share this story Campaign 2016 Clinton, Trump do agree on one thing—the right to use marijuana Why a theoretical physicist wants all state bills to be online before final vote State of the biggest, best union: Trump nightly webcast debuts tonight The next President will take power with significant space decisions looming Hillary Clinton vs Donald Trump on science, energy, and the climate View more storiesThe hot-button issues this election can be counted on one's fingers—and for most voters, things like copyright and patent policy don't make the list.

Assigned to a wonkish zone far from the Sunday morning talk shows, intellectual property issues aren't near the heart of our deeply polarized political discourse. Of the two major party candidates in 2016, only the Democratic candidate has a platform that even addresses copyright and patent policies.
So today, let's look at what we know about Hillary Clinton's plan, and make some informed speculation about what could happen to these areas under a Donald Trump presidency. Given that the campaign is focused (as always) on a relatively small group of issues, tech policy watchers who spoke to Ars were surprised to see a presidential platform that mentions IP issues at all.

Clinton's briefing paper on technology and innovation addresses both copyright and patent issues directly, and that in itself is something of a surprise.

Trump's website has no such information, so the best clues to his approach lie in his public statements and the people he has surrounded himself with. Clinton on copyright: The no-SOPA promise Hillary Clinton's intentions with copyright represent something of a snapshot of where the debate stands in 2016.

Copyright policy (and one could say this for patents as well) seems like an area where the nation should be able to overcome its wide partisan gap. Yet, no legislative change of any real significance took place during the Obama Administration. Roughly speaking, two huge sectors of the economy—technology and Hollywood—were sharply at odds about what should be done. That standoff made it easy for an already do-nothing Congress to, well, do nothing. Despite the lack of legislation, there was a big change during the Obama Administration in how US lawmakers viewed copyright. Members of Congress from both parties were deluged with calls and e-mails in 2012 as the citizenry absorbed what the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would mean for the functioning of the Internet.

The draconian proposal included methods for quickly blocking websites deemed piratical, demands that ISPs use "graduated response" to disconnect users accused as pirates, and instructions for search engines to be forcibly rearranged with a list of websites more to the liking of the RIAA and MPAA. At that time, the proposed anti-piracy law seemed destined for passage, with advocates of a more balanced copyright system hoping, at best, to whittle away at some of its worst changes.

But SOPA caused a public outcry unlike anything seen before; an Internet blackout prompted millions of calls and e-mails to Congress. Institutional memory of the anti-SOPA uprising is still strong in Congress, where politicians now approach copyright issues tentatively and reluctantly, speaking about not wanting to get "SOPA'd" on a complex topic. Speaking generally, most of the tech sector, and especially Internet companies, want a more balanced copyright system.

And they certainly don't want any kind of SOPA, or SOPA-lite proposal, whether it comes in the Congressional front door, through courts, or by lobbying state law enforcement. In that climate, Clinton's most important copyright position is her promise of what she won't be doing—and the Democratic candidate explicitly promises she won't be supporting a new version of SOPA.

As her position paper states, Clinton "maintains her opposition to policies that unnecessarily restrict the free flow of data online—such as the high profile fight over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)." (For reasons that aren't clear, this important sentence is oddly placed in the "net neutrality" section.) Later, Clinton has a paragraph dedicated to her positions on copyright.
It isn't too long, so it's worth considering in whole, jargon and all: Effective Copyright Policy: Copyrights encourage creativity and incentivize innovators to invest knowledge, time, and money into the generation of myriad forms of content. However, the copyright system has languished for many decades, and is in need of administrative reform to maximize its benefits in the digital age. Hillary believes the federal government should modernize the copyright system by unlocking—and facilitating access to—orphan works that languished unutilized, benefiting neither their creators nor the public.
She will also promote open-licensing arrangements for copyrighted material and data supported by federal grant funding, including in education, science, and other fields.
She will seek to develop technological infrastructure to support digitization, search, and repositories of such content, to facilitate its discoverability and use.

And she will encourage stakeholders to work together on creative solutions that remove barriers to the seamless and efficient licensing of content in the U.S. and abroad. Reading between the lines, what should the interested parties make of this? "There's flowery language, and it's hard to tell what it really means, but its heart is in the right place," said Joshua Lamel, who represents tech companies in Washington as VP of BGR Group, and serves as executive director of Re:Create, a group that pushes for more balanced copyright. "I don't know anyone in the Internet world who didn't like that paper." The most important Internet copyright law is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which was created and passed under Bill Clinton's tenure as president. "If you see the Internet as a success story, part of that is how [Bill] Clinton approached it in the 90s," Lamel told Ars.

There are problems with the DMCA and things that could be made better, but on the whole, the DMCA has done more good than harm. Of course, Hillary Clinton isn't her husband.

But her own record at the State Department, in Lamel's view, looks pretty good. Internet freedom was a major issue while Clinton ran State given the Arab Spring and related turmoil broke out on her watch.

The department voiced concern over Internet access and free speech during those events. The Clinton policy paper even cites a few points that are on the "wish list" of tech activists, like dealing with the mess around "orphan works," older copyrighted works where the owners can't be found, and ensuring open access to more federally funded content. While Clinton surprised some by citing a problem like orphan works, her platform is vague or silent on issues that are arguably more pressing. One burning issue for copyright reformers that she has no public position on is the deformed DMCA "exemption" process, in which people who want to bypass digital locks for non-piratical purposes have to ask permission from the Librarian of Congress every three years.

That's hamstrung companies, tinkerers, and activists who want to use copyrighted content for purposes that seem obviously good for society—whether it's ripping a DVD for educational slides or a documentary, or letting drivers tinker with their car software. In the view of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, that exemption process, detailed in Section 1201 of the DMCA, is "fundamentally flawed." Seeing no progress on a legislative solution, EFF filed a lawsuit in July challenging Section 1201 as unconstitutional.
Is reform of this critical area something that could get Clinton's support? The platform leaves us few clues. Finally, while Clinton was clear about speaking up for Internet access rights in other countries, she's been more heavy-handed when US national security is at issue.
Internet privacy isn't the focus of this article, but Clinton's public statements suggest that she will be at least as supportive of massive Internet surveillance as Obama was, if not more. When asked about Edward Snowden in the debates, she followed Obama's line—that he should come back to the US and face a trial, full stop.
It was her primary opponents, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley, who showed more sympathy towards Snowden. Other matters on the wish-list of copyright reformers, such as reforming the massive statutory damages available to copyright owners, are likely to face further stalemate in Congress regardless of who is president. "Statutory damages are in desperate need of change, and the damage to innovation is really high," says Ernesto Falcon, an EFF attorney who focuses on IP issues. "VC's look at litigation risk, and it's copyright is super-risky because of six-figure artificial damages.

But it's hard to get Congress to have the courage to take it up." Guessing at a Trump copyright policy What would we see under a President Trump? The answer is almost entirely speculative for now.
In October, the Trump transition team had a meeting related to tech policy.
Second-hand reports indicate that entertainment industry lobbyists had a vocal presence at that meeting, but Trump's team didn't talk much. As with some other policy areas, we're left guessing at what Trump's position might be like based public statements, his personal history, and the advisers he's surrounded himself with. Here's one unusual reason Trump could actually defend balanced copyright: the "alt-right," the most controversial segment of his supporters, rely on it.

The alt-right grew up the most freewheeling parts of the Internet, like reddit and 4chan.

And while the Trump phenomenon thrived from mainstream media's attention, he's also attacked the media and used the Internet (Twitter particularly) to speak directly to supporters.
Some of the more fringe media figures involved in Trump's campaign, like Roger Stone and Alex Jones, wouldn't really have careers without the Internet. Their followers may have been part of the hundreds of thousands of callers to Congress demanding that they stand down before implementing SOPA.
So, the far right could be advocates for Internet freedom. Another space where Trump shares some territory with copyright reformers is in his staunch opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. But while tech-sector opposition to TPP centered around copyright policies that some view as draconian, Trump's opposition has always had a traditional, anti-free-trade tone.
It suggests he simply believes TPP represents a bad deal for American workers. Putting aside those coincidental overlaps with reformers, there are a lot of reasons to think a President Trump would be a problem for tech in general and the Internet in particular. He's been happy to talk about "closing" the Internet in the name of fighting ISIS, has suggested boycotting Apple, and has been criticizing Amazon and Jeff Bezos for months, largely because of Bezos' ownership of The Washington Post. First of all, unlike traditional Republicans who often philosophically run "against Hollywood," Trump is in many ways a creature of Hollywood.

That means he's likely spent a time surrounded by folks with a more maximalist view of copyright. Former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, for one, is a trusted adviser. Copyright claims have been used, increasingly, as a kind of SLAPP lawsuit to squelch speech.
If anything, Trump has pushed back against free speech and press rights, suggesting he'd like to "open up" libel laws and make it easier to sue news outlets.

Trump regularly threatens libel lawsuits against his critics. While that isn't directly a copyright issue, it does not give reformers much hope. There are two well-known third-party candidates in the race, as well. Libertarian Gary Johnson told Ars in a 2011 interview that his "verdict is out on copyright laws," since they "protect yours and my thoughts, should they be original."  While he said internet freedom was a top priority for him, he As to Green Party candidate Jill Stein, meanwhile, copyrights and patents don't have a place in her platform. A third shot at patent reform? The anti-SOPA revolt notwithstanding, neither Congress nor any potential president has much interest in altering the stalemated copyright landscape, which is likely to upset either the tech or the entertainment sector. In theory, the situation with patents should be different.
In both 2013 and 2015, Congress debated and voted on different types of reforms to a patent litigation system that's widely seen as abused. Bills that would increase transparency, limit venue gamesmanship, protect end-users, and increase fee-shifting were introduced, amended, and found strong support in both parties. In the end, though, neither passed.

The Innovation Act of 2013 passed the House, but it died without a vote in the Senate.

A similar bill in 2015 was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but it got no further despite the Senate's passing from Democratic to Republican control.

Both bills had broad support from the Obama Administration, but neither could win the support of key sectors, including pharmaceuticals, lawyers' groups, and universities. Clinton's platform calls for "additional targeted rule changes" to patent litigation that mirror what Obama supported, and it offers a big chunk of what the tech sector is asking for.
Specifically, Clinton "supports laws to curb forum shopping and ensure that patent litigants have a nexus to the venue in which they are suing; require that specific allegations be made in demand letters and pleadings; and increase transparency in ownership by making patent litigants disclose the real party in interest." She also praises Obama's "efforts to rein in frivolous suits by patent trolls," like the president's creation of a Patent Trial and Appeals Board.

That entity oversees inter partes reviews (IPRs) that allow accused companies to challenge patents at the Patent Office in a way that's far cheaper than court. "That language is comfortable to me, as a pro-reform kind of guy," said a longtime pro-reform tech advocate who didn't want to be named because of ongoing negotiations in DC. "It makes me think her platform is trolls are bad, IPR's are good, the America Invents Act was a good thing, and that we should have venue reform." It's a continuation of the Obama policy, and during a heated campaign, that's about as much as reformers could hope for. It all looks good on paper—but there's a big "but." Some of the advisers Clinton has tapped give reformers pause.

A Politico report on Clinton's team notes that her working group on regulations includes the general counsel of InterDigital, a patent licensing firm that's in the same group as Qualcomm.
InterDigital was a staunch opponent of the 2013 and 2015 patent bills. Another high-profile IP strategist in Clinton's working group is Q.

Todd Dickinson, a former director of the US Patent and Trademark Office under Bill Clinton.

Dickinson praised Clinton's "drill down" on tech and innovation as "maybe unprecedented," but he isn't a personality that pro-reform groups love being close to Clinton.

During debates over the 2013 patent bill, Dickinson was the head of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), an IP lawyers' group that often told Congress concerns about patent trolls were overblown. So where's Trump in all this? Again, it's guesswork. "There's just nobody working on these issues for Trump," Dickinson told Politico in August. Patent policy might be an area that Trump doesn't care much about.

Taking a look at Mike Pence, the Governor of Indiana whom Trump chose as his running mate, may be more instructive. As the former leader of House conservatives, Pence is close to the right wing of the party, and he has a reputation for being someone who's skilled at negotiating with hardline groups like the Freedom Caucus. That could be useful to a President Trump, but nothing suggests Pence would be a friend of patent reform. While GOP House members voted 195-27 in favor of the first patent reform bill, most of the 27 "no" votes came from hardline conservatives, many of who identified as members of the Freedom Caucus. Pence is also a legislative rock-star to the American Conservative Union, another group that opposed patent reform from the right. Tech policy might be a proving ground as to whether a new Congress can work together in 2017.
If Clinton wins the presidency, all signs point to her facing at least one house of Congress controlled by Republicans. Will Congress support her on at least a few matters where majorities of both parties agree—like patent reform? Or, will Congress stay mired in a state of hyper-partisan inaction? Tech policy will be a kind of proving ground.
Gridlock in Houston, Texas.aJ Gazmen Campaign 2016 Hillary Clinton vs.

Donald Trump on broadband: She has a plan, he doesn’t FCC official: “Something’s not right” with Wi-Fi at Monday’s debate Trump: “The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough” Journalists must fork over $200 for Wi-Fi at presidential debate Trump takes on “Crooked Hillary” with Snapchat geofilter View more storiesreader comments 12 Share this story Here at Ars, we like thinking about the future.

And some of the biggest problems we’ll have to solve in the future are related to transportation.

The population of the US is increasing, fossil fuel consumption must be cut or climate will change more dramatically than it already is, and autonomy is coming to vehicles.
So it’s worth asking our presidential candidates their views on transportation policy.

After all, the policies of the next four years could impact how automakers implement autonomous systems, whether large train systems will be built (hello, Hyperloop?), and how quickly electric vehicles will be adopted. Unfortunately, although Ars reached out to Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein’s campaigns, not one of the candidates’ teams got back to us.

That left us with statements on the candidates’ websites and comments they made during debates and interviews earlier this year. Clinton Clinton’s policies are by far the most thorough, although there are still gaps in her plan that leave room for questions. The Democratic Party nominee says she would set aside $275 billion for infrastructure, $25 billion of which would be used to create an infrastructure bank that would allow the government to leverage another $225 billion in loans and credit, which would be used for building even more infrastructure. The former secretary of state added that she’d raise the money for this endeavor by overhauling how businesses that keep assets abroad get taxed on those assets. Clinton also says she'll renew and expand the Build American Bonds program that President Barack Obama started in 2009 to fund some of her infrastructure projects. But figuring how much of this huge infrastructure outlay would go toward building trains or upgrading networks for automotive and air fleets is difficult.

The plan Clinton articulates on her website groups all federal infrastructure projects together and doesn’t detail how much, for example, she’d like to devote to building roads better equipped for smart vehicles versus how much she’d like to devote to less-transportation-minded endeavors, like building more broadband infrastructure which Ars’ Jon Brodkin covered in a separate piece. Enlarge / A crowded compressed natural gas station. Scott Lowe But among the goals listed on her website, Secretary Clinton says she wants to use at least part of that $275 billion to create roads that can talk to autonomous vehicles.

Clinton’s website doesn’t get more specific than that, but one idea that’s been floated involves building wireless beacons at intersections where the glare of the sun makes traffic lights difficult to see.

Automakers could then equip their cars so that the vehicles will know automatically if the light is green or red. The Democratic candidate also said she’d use some of the infrastructure money to build “advanced fueling stations,” as well as equip roads with “sensors capable of alerting drivers to a dangerous icy patch a mile ahead.” She promised to also use some of those infrastructure billions to “provide more funding for basic research in transportation technology,” especially tackling problems that are “too far in the future for private industry to address." Clinton’s campaign claims that this funding will result in fewer accidents and less traffic due to the introduction of “vehicles that can sense and communicate with one another.” The funding would also theoretically reduce pollution after “more efficient and effective parking management systems,” are introduced. In her official statement, Clinton didn’t mention California’s bungled High Speed Rail project, and neither did her campaign share any opinion on the likelihood of Elon Musk’s Hyperloop idea making it from the hands of turmoil-ridden private companies to the real world.

But she did offer some salient details on improving aviation technology.

The Clinton campaign writes that World War II-era air traffic control systems need to be chucked in favor of “NextGen,” a satellite- (rather than radar-) based system that has been in the works since 2007.

The system is projected to ultimately cost the Federal Aviation Administration $17 billion in total (including funds that have already been spent), as well as $15 billion in private sector costs—that is, getting airlines to upgrade their equipment to work with the new system. “These efforts have fallen chronically behind schedule and well short of expectations,” Clinton’s campaign writes. “Clinton will get this crucial program back on track and ensure that it is managed effectively and with accountability.

These changes will save air travelers and airlines an estimated $100 billion in avoided delays over the next 15 years.” Despite campaign promises, getting the money to fund all this would be a real challenge. The US has traditionally funded transportation infrastructure with the Highway Trust Fund, financed by the federal gas tax, which hasn’t been raised in decades. Republicans would like to see the gas tax abolished and infrastructure spending tossed back to the states.

The Obama Administration has fought to increase funds for infrastructure spending to no avail.
If Congress’ demographics don’t change dramatically, Clinton could have as difficult a time as Obama did getting tax hikes for infrastructure spending approved. Trump Trump’s written and stated plans, compared to Clinton, are much, much more vague, but also more surprising, as they break significantly with the 2016 platform put forth by the Republican party. His campaign, like Clinton’s, did not respond to Ars’ request for comment. Throughout the summer, the businessman told reporters that he would more than double Clinton’s proposed spending on infrastructure, bringing the cost of his plan into the half-a-trillion-dollars range. But Trump’s plan to fund all this spending hasn’t been adequately articulated, except for in a couple of offhand comments he’s made on the campaign trial. According to The Hill, over the summer Trump told Fox Business Network’s Stuart Varney that he’d set up a fund to finance his infrastructure projects, offering only that “people, investors,” would be the primary contributors to that fund. “We’ll get a fund, we’ll make a phenomenal deal with the low interest rates and rebuild our infrastructure,” Trump told Varney. “The citizens would put money into the fund... and it will be a great investment, and it’s going to put a lot of people to work.” The Republican candidate explained that the money for the fund would come from selling infrastructure bonds. No matter where the money comes from, Trump’s ideas reflect a break from his party.

Typical Republicans try to kill most federal infrastructure spending initiatives that come through Congress in favor of letting states fund transportation and infrastructure as they wish.

The Washington Post wrote that when federal GOP lawmakers put together their party’s platform, it called for a significant reduction in how the Highway Trust Fund is funded, including a repeal of gas taxes.

The GOP wrote: We propose to remove from the Highway Trust Fund programs that should not be the business of the federal government. More than a quarter of the Fund’s spending is diverted from its original purpose. One fifth of its funds are spent on mass transit, an inherently local affair that serves only a small portion of the population, concentrated in six big cities.

Additional funds are used for bike-share programs, sidewalks, recreational trails, landscaping, and historical renovations. Now, Trump doesn’t seem to be against cutting taxes that feed the Highway Trust Fund—he said wants to subsidize all his planned building by selling infrastructure bonds, after all.

But the Republican candidate has repeatedly called for a national effort to repair roads and bridges beyond what many Republicans would deem kosher.

According to The Hill, Trump made a promise in June to “build the greatest infrastructure on the planet Earth—the roads and railways and airports of tomorrow.” Trump at the time also called for the rebuilding of “dilapidated airports,” a sentiment he echoed in the first presidential debate at Hofstra College on Sept. 26. Enlarge / A light rail station in Phoenix. RightBrainPhotography Outside of building massive airports, road networks, and train stations, Trump’s campaign website doesn’t directly target any policies regarding future transportation. He’s called for a general “temporary pause on new regulations and a review of previous regulations to see which need to be scrapped,” which could, among many other things, impact the way the federal government regulates automakers or the shipping industry or any number of transportation-related government endeavors. The Republican candidate also said he would not support the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—a multi-national trade agreement that covers everything from intellectual property to tariffs in trade between countries.

Trump’s website specifically called out the auto industry as a potential victim of the TPP, saying the trade deal “will hammer the car industry because it does not resolve, among other things, the substantial non-tariff barriers to US cars being sold in Japan and other countries—including currency manipulation, excess supply, and closed dealerships." Trump’s plan does dovetail with Republicans in that it seeks to make gasoline cheaper. His website calls for a renewal of the Keystone Pipeline deal and claims that his “America First Energy Plan will bring down residential and transportation energy costs, leaving more money in for American families as they pay less each month on power bills and gasoline for cars.” Trump’s “America First Energy Plan” calls for increased oil and gas drilling, as well as increased coal mining in the US—a policy that would be disastrous for the planet according to every scientific endeavor to quantify and explain climate change, despite Trump's well-documented false claims that climate change is a hoax. Johnson Unlike the two top candidates, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson has made very little mention of transportation infrastructure in his campaign. His website doesn’t mention it, and his campaign did not respond to our request for comment. Johnson, however, has been a vocal proponent of reducing taxes and reducing federal spending dramatically.
So it’s unlikely he’s interested in a massive federal bid to renew transportation infrastructure spending like Clinton or Trump. Johnson isn’t against technological progress itself, it seems.
In an August article by transhumanist writer Zoltan Istvan (who says he was on a short list to be Johnson’s running mate before Weld was chosen), Johnson said he welcomes the idea of driverless secret service cars (which would cut down on government staff in the form of chauffeurs, at least). Also unlike Clinton and Trump, Johnson seems to believe in a kind of privatization of transportation beyond making gas cheaper.

According to TechCruch, the Libertarian candidate gushed this summer about so-called “car sharing,” saying that the US needs to “Uber everything.” Stein Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein unsurprisingly believes in a more collective vision of the future of transportation.
She also did not respond to Ars’ request for comments, but her website calls for a move to 100 percent renewable energy in the US by 2030, although her plan on how to get there is not detailed. Dr.
Stein says she wants to “redirect research funds from fossil fuels into renewable energy and conservation,” and to “end all subsidies for fossil fuels and impose a greenhouse gas fee / tax to charge polluters for the damage they have created.” How Stein would pass such a radical gas tax increase when even moderate proposed increases over the last several decades have been killed in Congress is not explained. Stein also says she would enact what she calls a Green Deal (a spiritual successor to the New Deal, apparently), which would create “full employment” by opening up 20 million jobs in sustainable energy, mass-transit, and improved infrastructure building projects, among other service-related jobs.
Stein’s administration would also invest in “active transportation such as bike paths and safe sidewalks that dovetail with public transit.” How would Stein pay for all this? Her campaign suggests that investing in her full employment plan would increase income tax revenue for the government.

By combining this increased revenue with aggressively “cutting the bloated, dangerous military budget, and cutting private health insurance waste,” the government could pay for her mass transit plans. The way of the future Hillary Clinton’s plan to fund roads, aviation technology, and research relating to new transportation is probably the most coherent and realistic.

But without support in Congress, much of it could be wishful thinking.

Donald Trump’s platform lacks specifics, not only in how transportation infrastructure would be paid for, but also in what exactly he would prioritize if he had the money to do something.

Gary Johnson’s viewpoints may mesh well with Silicon Valley-types—less regulation of research and a stark reduction in taxes on startups would certainly benefit some players in the tech world. Jill Stein’s vision of 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 is laudable, but the office of President has historically required extensive compromise, and getting industry players already entrenched in non-renewable energy sources to play nice would be a stark challenge to her plan. Still, unless you work in some transportation-related industry, chances are you aren’t going to vote on the candidates’ transportation policies alone.

But knowing their attitudes toward a quickly-changing field that’s so dominated by technology, and being able to assess the coherence of their plans, might help an Ars reader feel more confident in their decision.
Enlarge / This is how we used to mess with the results of elections.

The Internet has made it a lot easier.US Air Force photo reader comments 3 Share this story Even if the Russian government was behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and various other political organizations and figures, the US government's options under international law are extremely limited, according to Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard law professor and former US assistant attorney general. Goldsmith, who served at the Justice Department during the administration of George W.

Bush and resigned after a dispute over the legal justifications for "enhanced interrogation" techniques, spoke on Tuesday about the DNC hack yesterday on a Yale University panel. "Assuming that the attribution is accurate," Goldsmith said, "the US has very little basis for a principled objection." In regard to the theft of data from the DNC and others, Goldsmith said that "it's hard to say that it violates international law, and the US acknowledges that it engages in the theft of foreign political data all the time." Goldsmith pointed out that when Director of the Office of National Intelligence James Clapper testified before Congress about a data breach at the Office of Personnel Management, which collected sensitive information on millions of individuals who had worked for or done business with the government, "He said, 'I'm really impressed with what they did, and I would have done the same thing if I could have.'" As far as the publication of the stolen data in a way intended to interfere with the US presidential election, Goldsmith noted that the US has a long history of interference in other countries' politics. "Misinformation campaigns are a core element of what the [Central Intelligence Agency] has done" since it was created, he said. Goldsmith cited a study published in August by Dov H. Levin of the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University.

The dataset for the study details all 117 known times the US and the USSR (later Russia) attempted to manipulate the outcome of elections in other countries. "This was either supporting one side, or taking actions to denigrate or harm the other side," explained Goldsmith. "And 69 percent of this was the US." Bad precedents In 1989, as a young Navy officer, I got a front-row seat to one of the more overt efforts by the US government to influence the results of a foreign election.
I was in Panama, and the outskirts of Panama City were plastered with campaign signs for Guillermo Endara, the presidential candidate of the Democratic Alliance of Civic Opposition (ADOC), the opposition party challenging General Manuel Noriega's Democratic Revolutionary Party. The CIA funded Endara's campaign, giving him $10 million—a huge sum for a country of 2.4 million people.

As an independent commission led by former Attorney General Ramsay Clark found in a report, "It is the per-capita equivalent of a foreign government spending over $1 billion to influence a US national election (five times the amount spent by George Bush and Michael Dukakis combined in the 1988 presidential election)." I left the country just before the election, which Endara apparently won based on exit polls—though that result wouldn't stand because of vote fraud by Noriega's supporters.

A "dignity battalion" attacked Endara and his running mate with clubs. I returned in December to do a security inspection at Rodman Naval Station, only to find myself being ushered into a van to the nearby Air Force base in the early morning hours of December 20 to evacuate as the US "corrected" the election results with Operation Just Cause. There are many other examples, some of them less direct—such as US support for a 1973 coup in Chile that overthrew the elected government of socialist President Salvador Allende. Other US efforts to affect politics—even those within the Soviet Union—were more subtle.

Goldsmith cited an example in the early 1950s, when "[Nikita] Khrushchev trashed Stalin in a party meeting.

The CIA got a recording of it and leaked it to newspapers in an attempt to harm Khrushchev." "No piece of [the DNC hack] is different functionally" from what both the US and Russia have done in the past, Goldsmith said. What's different is that it's happening to the United States—and that doesn't feel good. Thanks to the Internet and the powerful asymmetric capabilities it provides, events like these are likely to continue.

Cyber-disinformation campaigns can happen "with an ease and scale that dwarfs everything that happened before," Goldsmith noted.

The threat of interference in politics through hacking and data manipulation might render all past precedents set by intelligence organizations moot. "Theft and publication of truthful information is small beans—what about theft and publication of faked information, which is hard to verify, or tampering with the vote itself?" Goldsmith said. "That could have huge consequences, the number of actors who could do this are many, and our ability to defend against it is uncertain." The Russian government has been preparing for this game for some time.
Individuals aligned with the Russian government have used social media disinformation, denial of service attacks, and hacking campaigns to shape the political landscape in former Soviet states and elsewhere in Europe frequently over the last decade.

China also has shown a willingness to use information operations to influence US politics—apparently hacking the networks of both Barack Obama and John McCain during the 2008 presidential election campaign, using information obtained about McCain's interactions with Taiwan to further its own political objectives. Echoing comments made by Edward Snowden last year, Goldsmith concluded, "The US has the most powerful cyber capabilities in the world... but we are very much also the most vulnerable, and we're going to be more and more on the losing end of the stick.
I think this is just the beginning."