Gary Johnson on Net Neutrality
Governor Johnson has stated that he opposes net neutrality principles. In a 2011 interview, Governor Johnson stated that net neutrality was fine in theory but that the reality of the situation was that it was the start of government control of the internet. In describing his views on the subject, Governor Johnson stated that 95% of the time government involvement is not necessary and in this case limiting the actions of Comcast and similar providers would have unintended consequences.
The Next Web Interview
In June of 2011, Governor Johnson was interviewed by thenextweb.com and discussed the subject of net neutrality. Governor Johnson notes the concern with ISPs treating people differently is real, but that immediately involving government was not the best or proper solution.
TNW: Could you explain your view on net neutrality for our readers, in just a few sentences?
Gov. Johnson: I have to start with my experience as the Governor of New Mexico. I think that I vetoed more bills than any other governor. 750 vetoes in total I think and thousands of line items as well. I came at office from the standpoint that government does not have the answer to [all of the various] problems.
I live by the 95% rule: this is what I think, try to convince me otherwise, and 5% of the time I will be wrong. Net neutrality sounds great on paper, but the reality is that it is the start of government control of the Internet.
And, of course, as with every act of intervention by the government, this specific example would have unintended consequences. It will end up with the restriction of the Internet. I’m not the guy who wants to regulate [the Internet] or pass legislation that might do that.
And my resume speaks for me; it says that I won’t do it.
TNW: In your view then, the government does not need to have a hand in maintaining the equal treatment of content by ISPs. But what about companies such as Comcast that are both ISPs and owners of content creating enterprises? Doesn’t that raise the potential issue that they would give preferential treatment to their own content on their network?
Gov. Johnson: I see the concern of Comcast doing something like that, but I’m not going to immediately turn to governmental intervention.
Telling Comcast that it can’t do something like that would have, as I mentioned before, unintended consequences. And if the government passed legislation because of Comcast that had far-reaching implications, that too would have unintended consequences, and impact far more companies than just Comcast.
With net neutrality I don’t see the evidence for the abuse that people are discussing.
This goes back to my ‘knee-jerk’ 95/5 rule: we have to understand the other side of every issue. When I was Governor of New Mexico, this was one of my favorite jobs, I relished it. [It was invigorating] to understand the other side of the argument.
That said, I can’t recall when I had to change my position on something after doing more research.
I’m open to the debate and discussion, of course. That was one of the best parts of being a Governor, being in the middle of the conversation, in the middle of public policy. But without equivocation, we are engaged in understanding the issue.