A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, by John Perry Barlow rev 10 April 2011 to dir

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel,
I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. 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.

We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you
with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks.
I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent
of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us,
nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.

Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not
know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your
borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public
construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself
through our collective actions.

You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you
create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our
ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order
than could be obtained by any of your impositions.

You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this
claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don't
exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will
identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social
Contract . This governance will arise according to the conditions of our
world, not yours. Our world is different.

Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself,
arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a
world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.

We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice
accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.

We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her
beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence
or conformity.

Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context
do not apply to us. They are all based on matter, and there is no matter here.

Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by
physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest,
and the commonweal, our governance will emerge . Our identities may be
distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our
constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope we
will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis. But we cannot
accept the solutions you are attempting to impose.

In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications
Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams
of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These
dreams must now be born anew in us.

You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world
where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust
your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly
to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of
humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole,
the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from
the air upon which wings beat.

In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States,
you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at the
frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small time, but
they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media.

Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate themselves
by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own speech itself
throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be another industrial
product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world, whatever the human mind
may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost. The
global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish.

These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same position
as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had to reject
the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare our virtual
selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to your
rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no
one can arrest our thoughts.

We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more
humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.

Davos, Switzerland

February 8, 1996 

Highlighting and links added.
Original at https://projects.eff.org/~barlow/Declaration-Final.html, Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF)


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