Internet Defense League starts initiative today

July 19, 2012

Companies including Mozilla, WordPress, Reddit and the Cheezburger Network have joined with advocacy groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation to form the Internet Defense League — a group dedicated to warning Internet users when they see legislation that they find threatening to Internet innovation.

It may sound like a sort of Internet protection Avengers, but the group actually is timing its official launch with the release of the latest Batman movie. No, really.

The group is riffing off of the Dark Knight’s famous “bat signal” with its own “cat signal. Cats are, after all, the unofficial mascot of the Internet, whether they’re monorailing, jumping into boxes or having their faces framed by bread. The group will use the signal on its Web sites when it hears about concerning legislation.

In all seriousness, though, the group is hoping that it will be able to reliably capture some of the momentum that these same sites saw as they fought the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP (Intellectual Property) Act earlier this year. Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) are all supporting the new organization as it launches today.

The group is planning parties in San Francisco, New York, Washington, D.C., London and Ulan Bator, Mongolia, the group’s site says. The coalition is raising money from supporters now, offering membership cards, “cat signal” flashlights and even spotlights (for bigger donors) as gifts. So far, the group’s donation ticker indicates that it’s raised nearly $16,180.

In D.C., the event is being hosted by the New America Foundation on Thursday starting at 8 p.m at Irish Whiskey (1207 19th St.), where the group will be splashing the cat signal into the night sky.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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