The Internet Defense League, a project aimed at uniting the internet against bad laws and monopolies, officially launched the “Cat Signal” last night with parties in San Francisco, Washington, DC and New York City. Much as the Bat Signal warns Batman of impending doom, the Cat Signal strives to alert websites and users to dangerous laws and bills that threaten Internet freedom.
Hundreds of websites banded together earlier this year to protest SOPA and PIPA, two bills that threatened Internet freedom, by participating in a voluntary 24-hour blackout. The protest was successful as both bills died in the House and Senate, but there was no organization to the blackout and no central source for related information. The Internet Defense League strives to add organization to these large-scale protests.
Fight for the Future, the non-profit organization behind the Internet Defense League, has already executed numerous anti-SOPA protests, including funding a billboard reading “Don’t mess with the Internet” near SOPA-sponsor Lamar Smith’s office and a boycott of SOPA-supporting domain registrar GoDaddy, who responded by officially changing their stance.
The Internet Defense League is making great strides towards protecting Internet freedom. “We now have members signed on to the Internet Defense League from both sides of government,” said Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, at the New York City launch party. “The same kind of non-partisan strength that we saw [against] SOPA and PIPA…we’re seeing here with the Internet Defense League.”
But Ohanian was also aware of the great responsibility that comes from running an organization as influential as the Internet Defense League. “I also hope that we never have to use [the Cat Signal].” He continued, “I’m not that naive, but I really hope that that’s the goal.”