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Declaration of independence for cyberspace

We touched on the independence of the Web in an article on the genesis of "Metavers", and the podcast linked below is a good complement for those who want to know more about these concrete and effective struggles. This aspect of (cyber)culture, a dream of the hippy-techno libertarians of the 1990s, is little known in France, where hardly anyone has been aware of these struggles since the beginnings of the Internet (sic - Yannn Minh).

"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."
- John Perry Barlow, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace


For the American John Perry Barlow, in the 90s, the Internet was going to change the world. He was right: digital civilization has become our ubiquitous reality. But at what price? Hasn't the libertarian and emancipatory utopia been privatized and hijacked by GAFAM, the Internet giants?

Podcast on this declaration of independence in cyberspace.

declaration of independence for cyberspace

declaration of independence for cyberspace

The Declaration of Independence for Cyberspace is a famous text written on February 8, 1996 in Davos, Switzerland, by John Perry Barlow, writer, activist and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It supports the idea that no government (or any other form of power) can impose itself and appropriate the Internet, created six years earlier and still in its infancy and in full expansion at the time.

It was written partly in response to the passage of the TelecommunicationsAct of 1996 in the USA - then under Bill Clinton. The Communications Decency Act (CDA), incorporated into the Telecommunication Act, aimed to censor certain offensive and pornographic content, making it illegal and punishable by a $250,000 fine to, for example, say "shit" online, talk explicitly about abortion, or refer to various bodily functions in anything other than strictly clinical terms, thus tending to limit certain freedoms on the Internet.

Because of its subject matter, this declaration became famous within the first few weeks of its publication, and is still popular on the Internet today. As for the part of the Telecommunications Act concerning expression on the Internet (CDA), the loud cries of Barlow and other defenders of civil liberties bore fruit: in June 1997, after several months of legal wrangling, the Supreme Court ruled that it was incompatible with the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

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