Internet Pioneer, Grateful Dead Lyricist John Perry Barlow Dies

John Perry Barlow, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and lyricist for the Grateful Dead, died this week at age 70. The San Francisco resident, who will be remembered as both an internet pioneer and rock 'n' roll icon, "passed away quietly in his sleep" according to a post on the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) website.

Barlow made a huge impact on the way people use the Internet today with EFF, the San Francisco-based nonprofit fights for digital rights.

Since its founding in 1990, EFF has backed legislation and lawsuits related to online freedom and security, and advised tech companies and governments regarding policies that affect us all in the internet age.

"It is no exaggeration to say that major parts of the Internet we all know and love today exist and thrive because of Barlow's vision and leadership," Cindy Cohn, executive director of the EFF, said in a blog post Tuesday. " He always saw the Internet as a fundamental place of freedom, where voices long silenced can find an audience and people can connect with others regardless of physical distance."

Barlow's famous piece, the "Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace," written in February 1996 -- shortly after the passage of the Telecommunications Reform Act, which he decried -- has taken on a new meaning today as the internet has taken over the world.

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

Today, the tech industry and the world are grappling with a digital divide, a threat to net neutrality, and controversy after controversy over free speech, abuse and harassment...

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