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ADeclarationoftheIndependenceofCyberspace

byJohnPerryBarlow<barlow@eff.org>
GovernmentsoftheIndustrialWorld,youwearygiantsoffleshandsteel,IcomefromCyberspace,
thenewhomeofMind.Onbehalfofthefuture,Iaskyouofthepasttoleaveusalone.Youarenot
welcomeamongus.Youhavenosovereigntywherewegather.
Wehavenoelectedgovernment,norarewelikelytohaveone,soIaddressyouwithnogreater
authoritythanthatwithwhichlibertyitselfalwaysspeaks.Ideclaretheglobalsocialspaceweare
buildingtobenaturallyindependentofthetyranniesyouseektoimposeonus.Youhavenomoral
righttoruleusnordoyoupossessanymethodsofenforcementwehavetruereasontofear.
Governmentsderivetheirjustpowersfromtheconsentofthegoverned.Youhaveneithersolicited
norreceivedours.Wedidnotinviteyou.Youdonotknowus,nordoyouknowourworld.
Cyberspacedoesnotliewithinyourborders.Donotthinkthatyoucanbuildit,asthoughitwerea
publicconstructionproject.Youcannot.Itisanactofnatureanditgrowsitselfthroughourcollective
actions.
Youhavenotengagedinourgreatandgatheringconversation,nordidyoucreatethewealthofour
marketplaces.Youdonotknowourculture,ourethics,ortheunwrittencodesthatalreadyprovideour
societymoreorderthancouldbeobtainedbyanyofyourimpositions.
Youclaimthereareproblemsamongusthatyouneedtosolve.Youusethisclaimasanexcuseto
invadeourprecincts.Manyoftheseproblemsdon'texist.Wheretherearerealconflicts,wherethere
arewrongs,wewillidentifythemandaddressthembyourmeans.WeareformingourownSocial
Contract.Thisgovernancewillariseaccordingtotheconditionsofourworld,notyours.Ourworldis
different.
Cyberspaceconsistsoftransactions,relationships,andthoughtitself,arrayedlikeastandingwavein
thewebofourcommunications.Oursisaworldthatisbotheverywhereandnowhere,butitisnot
wherebodieslive.
Wearecreatingaworldthatallmayenterwithoutprivilegeorprejudiceaccordedbyrace,economic
power,militaryforce,orstationofbirth.
Wearecreatingaworldwhereanyone,anywheremayexpresshisorherbeliefs,nomatterhow
singular,withoutfearofbeingcoercedintosilenceorconformity.
Yourlegalconceptsofproperty,expression,identity,movement,andcontextdonotapplytous.They
areallbasedonmatter,andthereisnomatterhere.
Ouridentitieshavenobodies,so,unlikeyou,wecannotobtainorderbyphysicalcoercion.We
believethatfromethics,enlightenedselfinterest,andthecommonweal,ourgovernancewillemerge.
Ouridentitiesmaybedistributedacrossmanyofyourjurisdictions.Theonlylawthatallour
constituentcultureswouldgenerallyrecognizeistheGoldenRule.Wehopewewillbeabletobuild
ourparticularsolutionsonthatbasis.Butwecannotacceptthesolutionsyouareattemptingto
impose.
IntheUnitedStates,youhavetodaycreatedalaw,theTelecommunicationsReformAct,which
repudiatesyourownConstitutionandinsultsthedreamsofJefferson,Washington,Mill,Madison,
DeToqueville,andBrandeis.Thesedreamsmustnowbebornanewinus.
Youareterrifiedofyourownchildren,sincetheyarenativesinaworldwhereyouwillalwaysbe

immigrants.Becauseyoufearthem,youentrustyourbureaucracieswiththeparentalresponsibilities
youaretoocowardlytoconfrontyourselves.Inourworld,allthesentimentsandexpressionsof
humanity,fromthedebasingtotheangelic,arepartsofaseamlesswhole,theglobalconversationof
bits.Wecannotseparatetheairthatchokesfromtheairuponwhichwingsbeat.
InChina,Germany,France,Russia,Singapore,ItalyandtheUnitedStates,youaretryingtowardoff
thevirusoflibertybyerectingguardpostsatthefrontiersofCyberspace.Thesemaykeepoutthe
contagionforasmalltime,buttheywillnotworkinaworldthatwillsoonbeblanketedinbitbearing
media.
Yourincreasinglyobsoleteinformationindustrieswouldperpetuatethemselvesbyproposinglaws,in
Americaandelsewhere,thatclaimtoownspeechitselfthroughouttheworld.Theselawswould
declareideastobeanotherindustrialproduct,nomorenoblethanpigiron.Inourworld,whateverthe
humanmindmaycreatecanbereproducedanddistributedinfinitelyatnocost.Theglobal
conveyanceofthoughtnolongerrequiresyourfactoriestoaccomplish.
Theseincreasinglyhostileandcolonialmeasuresplaceusinthesamepositionasthoseprevious
loversoffreedomandselfdeterminationwhohadtorejecttheauthoritiesofdistant,uninformed
powers.Wemustdeclareourvirtualselvesimmunetoyoursovereignty,evenaswecontinueto
consenttoyourruleoverourbodies.WewillspreadourselvesacrossthePlanetsothatnoonecan
arrestourthoughts.
WewillcreateacivilizationoftheMindinCyberspace.Mayitbemorehumaneandfairthanthe
worldyourgovernmentshavemadebefore.
Davos,Switzerland
February8,1996