On the anniversary of John Perry Barlow’s issuing ‘A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,’ a response and alternate call to action.Seventeen years ago today, on February 8, 1996, John Perry Barlow sent out his manifesto “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” a statement of the core belief of many cyber-libertarians that governments should have no authority on the Internet. The ideas expressed in the Declaration are not only wrong today but were fundamentally wrong in 1996.
Libertarians of the Virtual World, you gray-bearded detractors of government and sovereignty, we too come from Cyberspace. On behalf of the future, we ask you of the past to leave us alone. Your declaration of independence rings false, and your stale principles are a threat to progress.
You allege that government has had no role in the Internet, and for this reason it has no claim to the Internet today, but this accusation is founded on nothing more than ignorance and superstition. Government labs and government-funded research programs gave birth to the Internet’s essential technologies, and government policies continue to guide the development of important Internet innovations today.
You denounce legitimate authority and tell us we must choose anarchy or face tyranny.
Your claim is nonsense.