Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

This entry discusses the history, context, effects, and legacy of John Perry Barlow’s A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. The declaration appeared in early February 1996 and has been shared, reprinted, and cited nearly constantly since that time. It describes and promotes an ideal of the World Wide Web in particular, and the Internet more generally, as a place with its own culture and unwritten codes.

According to its author, the declaration was written quickly at a party put on by the hosts of that year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Originally commissioned for possible inclusion in a book arising from that gathering, it was instead immediately repurposed as an email the author says he sent to approximately 600 people. The text soon spread ...

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