So that whole “Internet lobbyist” movement hasn’t quite panned out yet. But hey, here’s some good news for people who love cat videos. The Internet just got its own bat signal, thanks to a gaggle of activists and web entrepreneurs, including Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who created a virtual advocacy group called the Internet Defense League. Similar to the splash page for a startup yet to launch, the IDL for now just collects email addresses and accepts donations.
But just you wait. The next time some analog bully comes along and tries to squash piracy, erode privacy or ban anonymous comments, the geek bat signal will be there, ready to trigger a storm of angry tweeting, blogging and Skype calls to senators. And in extreme cases, the IDL can call for another Internet blackout.
When the internet’s in danger and we need millions of people to act, the League will ask its members to broadcast an action. (Say, a prominent message asking everyone to call their elected leaders.) With the combined reach of our websites and social networks, we can be massively more effective than any one organization.
The organizers also plan to build some Internet censorship awareness tools, including a crowdsourced system for “identifying threats and opportunities.” The Internet has always been extremely self-aware, to the point where it’s possible to forget that there is an outside world that actually makes the laws about it.
The IDL may need to tweak its messaging, though: “The next time there’s an emergency, we’ll tell you and send new code. Then it’s your decision to pull the trigger,” says the site, sounding unintentionally like a fleet of black hat basement hackers. Oh well! The police had an awkward relationship with Batman, too.