John Gilmore (born 1955) is one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Cypherpunks mailing list, and Cygnus Solutions. He created the alt.* hierarchy in Usenet and is a major contributor to the GNU project.
An outspoken civil libertarian, Gilmore has sued the Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Justice, and others. He was the plaintiff in the prominent case Gilmore v. Gonzales, challenging secret travel-restriction laws. He is also an advocate for drug policy reform.
He co-authored the Bootstrap Protocol in 1985, which evolved into DHCP - the primary way local networks assign devices an IP address.
Gilmore owns the domain name toad.com, which is one of the 100 oldest active .com domains. It was registered on August 18, 1987. He runs the mail server at toad.com as an open mail relay. In October 2002, Gilmore’s ISP, Verio, cut off his Internet access for running an open relay, a violation of Verio’s terms of service. Many people contend that open relays make it too easy to send spam. Gilmore protests that his mail server was programmed to be essentially useless to spammers and other senders of mass email and he argues that Verio’s actions constitute censorship. He also notes that his configuration makes it easier for friends who travel to send email, although his critics counter that there are other mechanisms to accommodate people wanting to send email while traveling. The measures Gilmore took to make his server useless to spammers may or may not have helped, considering that in 2002, at least one mass-mailing worm that sent through open relays—W32.Yaha—had been hardcoded to relay through the toad.com mailserver.
Gilmore famously stated of Internet censorship that “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it”.
He unsuccessfully challenged the constitutionality of secret laws regarding travel security policies in Gilmore v. Gonzales.
Gilmore is also an advocate for the relaxing of drug laws, and has given financial support to, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the Marijuana Policy Project, Erowid, MAPS, Flex Your Rights, and various other organizations seeking to end the war on drugs. He is a member of the boards of MAPS, the Marijuana Policy Project, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.