EFF founder and internet activist John Perry Barlow has died
John Perry Barlow has one of those resumes that seems too surreal to possibly be true. Entertainment sites are currently lamenting the loss of a poet turned Grateful Dead lyricist. Political sites are mourning the death of a lifelong activist. For tech sites such as ours, however, he’ll be forever remembered as the co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation — arguably the most influential organization for internet civil liberties.
EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn announced Barlow’s passing at age 70 in a blog post today, noting, “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. 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.”
After spending much of the 1970s co-writing songs with Dead guitarist Bob Weir, the Wesleyan graduate co-founded the EFF along with digital rights activists John Gilmore and Mitch Kapor. The organization was founded after Barlow had a run-in with the FBI over some Macintosh ROMs.