John Perry Barlow, an influential defender of the open Internet, died in his sleep on February 7, at the age of 70.
Barlow was a founding member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has, since its founding, been the industry leader in cyber activism and the defense of Internet civil liberties. In a statement released after his passing, EFF said:
Barlow’s lasting legacy is that he devoted his life to making the Internet into “a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth . . . a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.”
Demonstrative of the influence Barlow had on many, in 1996 he gave a talk at the middle school class of the brilliant young Aaron Swartz, which was said to have changed Aaron’s life and set him on the path to cyber activism and entrepreneurship. That including developing RSS, Creative Commons, and Reddit.
Barlow will be missed. But the Electronic Frontier Foundation promises to “continue the work to fulfill his dream.”