When Batman makes his triumphant return in "The Dark Knight Rises" at midnight on July 19, keep an eye on the evening skies if you live in San Francisco, New York, Washington, D.C., or London for an illuminated "cat signal" spotlight.
The cat's face, similar to Batman's infamous bat signal, stands for the Internet Defense League, and symbolizes a team that acts like the Super Friends of Internet freedom. The IDL's slogan: "Make sure the Internet never loses. Ever."
The amusing idea comes from Fight for the Future (and Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit), a team that rallied 115,000 Web sites and 3 million e-mails to Congress to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), Protect IP Act (PIPA), and other Internet censorship bills.
Building on previous successes, the group's latest project wields the support of Web sites and groups such as Mozilla, WordPress, Reddit, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, with "many more" to be announced at the official launch, according to the IDL's Web site. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kans.) plan to attend Thursday's press conference publicly heralding the group, according to Adweek.
The IDL says it still needs many thousands of dollars to fund its goals, but the group told Crave it has enough to shine cat signals in San Francisco, Washington D.C, and New York. Interested parties can donate on a Kickstarter-style page that offers several benefits for small donations -- donate $30 and get a personal "cat signal torch light," for example. The group plans to host parties celebrating its launch at midnight in the aforementioned locales, as well as in an oddball additional location, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
"While the Internet Defense League idea was brewing, people started calling it 'a bat signal for the Internet,' and we ran with it," Holmes Wilson, one of the founders of Fight for the Future and a member of the IDL, told Wired of the decision to choose a cat as the symbol. "Except that if the Internet has a mascot, it's definitely a cat, not a bat."
The IDL hopes the cat signal brings awareness to the idea of quickly mobilizing people when the Internet faces major challenged, similar to an "Internet Emergency Broadcast System," says the IDL Web site. "With the combined reach of our Web sites and social networks, we can be massively more effective than any one organization," the site continues.
In a conversation with Crave, an IDL representative noted that "IDL takes the tactics and network that took down SOPA and turns it into a permanent force. The 24 million people who took action during the SOPA fight are a new constituency for internet freedom -- we expect internet policy to no longer be created in a Congressional vacuum. There's no excuse to rush through policy, we're here and ready to help shape policy and practice. There's a new fight for basic rights and freedoms and the Internet Defense League is ready to help define those fights."
So far, the league offers a widget that anyone can put onto their Web site (but that only the IDL can activate), which can relay important information about troublesome legislation when the time arises. IDL's current Internet censorship targets include the ACTA, TPP, and CISPA (aka Lieberman-Collins) bills.