The Atlantic

The End of Cyberspace

Internet theorists and companies once declared themselves free of nations and governance, but that’s all over now.
Source: Peter Mueller / Reuters

In the most utopian statement of what the internet might be, the late John Perry Barlow laid out the claim that cyberspace was free. “Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind,” Barlow wrote in 1996. “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.”

Barlow’s statement drew on—and advanced—California technologists’ libertarian streak and the. Few people talked like this even by the mid-aughts, but the strain of thought lived on in word and in deed.

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