(NOTE: Please access the original site: http://www.misha.net/~elfi/dec.html)


A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace


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 based on matter, There is no matter here.


Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by

physical coersion. 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.


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 John Perry Barlow, Cognitive Dissident

Co-Founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation


"It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by



--Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia