EXCLUSIVE: Gov. Gary Johnson Stands Firmly with Apple in Encryption Battle

AP Photo/Jim Mone
AP Photo/Jim Mone

I caught up recently with Gary Johnson, the former two-term governor of New Mexico who is currently a presidential candidate for the libertarian party, to discuss the FBI-Apple encryption dispute, the state of libertarianism, and Donald Trump.

Gov. Johnson, who was the libertarian party’s nominee in 2012 after a short-lived run for the Republican nomination, received 1.2 million votes in the general election. He is a staunch anti-authoritarian who describes his own beliefs as “fiscally conservative, socially liberal.”

We spoke at length about the FBI-Apple encryption dispute, which has occurred in the wake of the San Bernardino terrorist attack. Johnson sided firmly with Apple, citing his concerns that creating backdoor access to all iPhones would pose security and privacy threats: “They’re not providing one key to open the door, they’re providing a master key that will open all the doors.”

He expressed skepticism about the FBI’s purported claim that they need Apple’s cooperation in order to access a smartphone’s internal data. He claimed to be “slain by the fact that the FBI does not have the capability to do this themselves.” Since our conversation, the Department of Justice has suggested that the FBI may be closer to cracking into the iPhone without Apple’s assistance.

Johnson, who is currently the CEO of a marijuana start-up firm, is a strong proponent of personal freedoms. While the fight to legalize marijuana may only be symbolic of the greater battle against excessive legislation, Johnson has focused a large portion of his recent years on making an argument in favor of legalization. His company, Cannabis Sativa Inc., will supposedly tout “the creme de la creme of marijuana products.”

Johnson told me that he believes that most Americans are actually libertarians and that voters are often forced to pick between the lesser of two evils. He considers Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to be “the most polarizing figures in the entire country,” and as a result this election cycle will one of the first to force voters to ask, “What are my other options?”

Although many will argue voting for a third-party candidate is throwing away a vote, perhaps Gov. Johnson is asking us rather to vote simply to get a good night’s sleep. As Henry David Thoreau commanded: “Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.”

Tom Ciccotta writes about Freedom of Speech and Intellectual Diversity for Breitbart. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta.


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