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Internet Defense League introduces 'cat signal' for websites

May 26, 2012|By Deborah Netburn
  • A screen grab from the website of the newly formed Internet Defense League.
A screen grab from the website of the newly formed Internet Defense League. (Fight for the Future )

Internet defenders, assemble!

Months after the success of the virtual protests against the SOPA online piracy bill, the nonprofit group Fight for the Future is forming the Internet Defense League -- an organization of people who support Internet freedom and have pledged to fight for it using whatever powers they have.

"The Internet Blackout was just the beginning," the league founders write on a Web page announcing the project. "Together, our websites and personal networks can mobilize the planet to defend the Internet from bad laws and monopolies. Are you in?"

Joining up is as simple as entering the URL of your website (or blog, YouTube channel, Twitter stream or Tumblr account) as well as an email address on the Internet Defense League's website.

Then in a few weeks you'll get further instructions on how to place a piece of code on your website that will allow the league to alert you when you need to jump into action. 

That action might be allowing the league to take over your entire site or placing a message in a sidebar. You may be asked to show your readers a streaming video or urge them to contact a congressional representative.

For now, the sign that you are needed will look like the bat signal the people of Gotham used to summon Batman, but with a cute cat face. They call it the "cat signal."

Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder of Fight for the Future who is spearheading the project, said WordPress, Reddit and the Cheeseburger network have already signed up to be part of the league and that Wikipedia -- the largest website to take part in the anti-SOPA protest -- is also considering membership.

"With the current sites signed up we have a combined reach of tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of people," Cheng said. "We are taking the network and tactics of the SOPA fight that we created and turning it into a permanent force."

As for why the signal for Internet action is a cat, Cheng said it has to do with Ethan Zuckerman's cute cat theory of digital activism, which posits that the same tools that help people share cute cat photos can also be used for online activism.

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