'Cat signal' marks launch of Internet Defense League

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The internet has a new crusader to defend it: the Internet Defense League, which has launched with a fanfare and its own 'laughing cat' version of the bat signal.

First announced in May, the group has the support of advocacy groups including  the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), OpenCongress and Fight for the Future, as well as industry players such as Mozilla, WordPress and Reddit.

"The Internet Defense League is a network of people and sites who use their massive combined reach to defend the open internet and make it better. Because it can sound the alarm quickly to millions of users, people are calling it 'a bat-signal for the internet'," says the group.

The aim is to fight what it sees as restrictive legislation by recruiting website owners to protest. Site owners are given a small pice of code to incorporate into their websites, displaying, say, a protest message or a petition.

"Concerted action by millions of internet users killed SOPA, but we know that protecting online rights takes vigilance. In fact, SOPA supporters are already pushing their censorship agenda through new bills, secret international trade agreements, and 'voluntary' agreements negotiated between Big Content and service providers," says EFF's activism director Rainey Reitman.

"And the threats don’t stop there: our rights to communicate and browse the web in private are also at risk, thanks to proposed Big Brother surveillance measures."

Last night, the group broadcast its own 'cat signal' in several cities across the US - and was even planning the same in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia.

"We are very happy to be sharing a launch date with Batman. Everyone who took part in defeating SOPA, PIPA & ACTA this year are legitimate real-life superheroes," says the IDL.

"Sure, the film's parent company probably has bats$%&# crazy plans for our internet (and yes, they gave a role in the movie to a pro-PIPA Senator). But Batman? He's awesome."