John Perry Barlow: will dream of open internet die with its founding father?

Internet pioneer John Perry Barlow, who championed ideals of a free and open internet, has died. And his ideals are at risk of dying with him.

Barlow’s Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, written almost exactly 22 years ago, was a rallying cry for cyberpunks and a warning to governments: “On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.”

The declaration laid out an optimistic vision for an egalitarian internet that would allow anyone to express their beliefs “without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity” and without government regulation.

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John Perry Barlow, 'visionary' internet pioneer, dies aged 70
John Perry Barlow, “visionary” internet pioneer, press freedom advocate and Grateful Dead lyricist, has died aged 70.

Barlow was named as a Guardian “Open 20” fighter for internet freedom in 2012 because of his work to establish the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which defends online liberties. The organisation announced Barlow, a Wyoming native, died in his sleep on Wednesday morning.

John Perry Barlow, 70, Dies; Championed an Unfettered Internet
John Perry Barlow, a former cowpoke, Republican politician and lyricist for the Grateful Dead whose affinity for wide open spaces and free expression transformed him into a leading defender of an unfettered internet, died on Wednesday at his home in San Francisco. He was 70.

His death was confirmed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which he helped found in San Francisco in 1990. No cause was given, but the organization said he had been ailing after a heart attack in 2015.

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