Internet Defense League Prepares to Combat Threats to Web

The group, which includes such members as Mozilla, WordPress and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, officially kicks off with launch events around the world.

The Internet Defense League, a loose coalition of Internet sites that was first announced in May to help protect the Web against proposed laws and other actions members deem are aimed at hindering Internet freedom, is ready for its official launch.

The group--which includes advocacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), OpenCongress and Fight for the Future, content sites like Reddit, Cheezburger and WordPress, and open-source software maker Mozilla--is using the night of July 19 for its coming-out event to coincide with the release of the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises.

To announce its arrival, the IDL will shine its own cat signal at five launch events--in San Francisco, New York, Washington, London, and Ulan Bator, Mongolia.

The group is looking to organize the type of Internet-wide protests earlier this year that helped derail the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). To protest what they saw as flawed legislation that would hamper Internet freedom and stifle innovation, sites like Wikipedia, Reddit and others blacked out their pages for as long as 24 hours, and Google and Mozilla posted links to petitions that users could sign to be sent to Congress. For their part, privacy advocacy groups like the EFF offered users ways to show their feelings against the proposed measures.

According to IDL, the group will offer software code that officials at participating organizations can put into their Websites, with the hope that opposition to such laws as SOPA, PIPA, the Cyber-Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) can be more quickly organized.

"Concerted action by millions of Internet users killed SOPA, but we know that protecting online rights takes vigilance," Rainy Reitman, activism director for the EFF, said in a July 19 blog post. "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. 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.

"We know that when we work together, we can protect our Internet. So, we re joining with some of our friends from the anti-SOPA fight in creating the Internet Defense League to help Internet users, organizations, and companies fight back whenever online rights are threatened."

The IDL said members will be able to more quickly mobilize others to action.

"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.), the league said on its Website. With the combined reach of our Websites and social networks, we can be massively more effective than any one organization."

Along with Websites, Internet advocates and tech companies, the Internet Defense League also has gotten support from some members of Congress, including Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) and Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).

Some of the proposed laws not only are being pushed by politicians, but also by tech companies. CISPA, which would enable the intelligence community to share information with private firms that face that threat of cyber-attack, is being supported by such formidable tech companies like Microsoft, Intel and Facebook, who said it will increase security on the Internet.

Groups like the EFF, American Civil Liberties Union and Center for Democracy and Technology have argued that it would be easy for private user information to end up in the hands of government agencies.

This article was originally published on 07-19-2012
eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.

Click for a full list of Newsletterssubmit