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Hands Off The Internet: Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson Speaks

July 21, 2011Posted in Blog, Gov. Gary Johnson, Internet, Issue, Twitter

From Ars Technica by Timothy B. Lee

Gary Johnson is not a typical Republican. While rivals like Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum were signing on to a pledge to oppose gay marriage, Gary Johnson put out a press release calling the move “offensive and un-Republican.” His campaign didn’t mince words: “While the Family Leader pledge covers just about every other so-called virtue they can think of, the one that is conspicuously missing is tolerance.”

So why is he in the Republican presidential primary at all? Johnson served as the Republican governor of New Mexico for two terms, from 1995 to 2003. In office, he developed a reputation as a fiscal conservative. He likes to brag that he vetoed 750 bills during his time in office—”about equal to all the combined vetoes of the other 49 Governors in the country at the time.” He says that if elected president, he would balance the budget by dramatically cutting spending while also cutting taxes.

In other words, Johnson represents the libertarian wing of the Republican party. On some issues, like gay marriage and immigration, he makes even his more famously libertarian rival Ron Paul look like a conventional conservative.

The former governor’s libertarian streak is evident in his tech policy positions (read his general tech policy principles). He believes that the government is too big, too expensive, and too intrusive. He opposes laws that infringe on personal freedom, like the Patriot Act, Internet gambling regulations, and the PROTECT IP Act. He’s also a skeptic of taxes and regulations on tech-related businesses, and he opposes network neutrality regulations, Internet taxes, and the aggressive use of antitrust law.

We spoke to him about his tech policy positions earlier this month.

“It just doesn’t seem to end”

Gov. Johnson is at his most animated when denouncing the surveillance state. “Government is becoming more and more intrusive, and I don’t believe we’re any more or less safe as a result,” he said. He wants to “sunset” the Patriot Act and revisit the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, which dramatically expanded the government’s spying powers.

“It just doesn’t seem to end,” he said. “It’s something that continues to creep along, and all of a sudden we find ourselves under the guise of surveillance in every aspect of our lives.”

He wants the government to butt out in other ways, too. He’s a critic of FCC regulations of profanity on the airwaves, arguing that “broadcasters should be allowed to have free speech.” He wants to repeal the Internet gambling ban Congress passed in 2006, and he recently spent 3 days in Las Vegas seeking the votes and campaign contributions of poker players.

Johnson’s strident tone softens when we talked about copyright law, however. “I’ve always thought copyright laws have a place,” he said. “They protect yours and my thoughts, should they be original.” However, he says, he’s been hearing “more and more on the other side of that argument.”

But he’s not shy about denouncing the recent string of ICE domain name seizures, which he says is “just another example of how government acts first with no accountability at all.” Nor is he a fan of the PROTECT IP Act, which he says is “the kind of legislation that favors those with deep pockets” to the detriment of startups.

Read the rest of the article here

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