Internet Defense League launches network to defend Web freedom

Matt Pitchford Contributor
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The Internet Defense League — an organization designed to warn of attacks on Internet freedom using a cat and spotlight logo — officially launched on Thursday.

Tiffiniy Cheng, a co-founder of digital rights group Fight for the Future and an organizer of the Internet Defense League, told The Daily Caller in an interview that the league is meant to is to rise to “every threat and opportunity for the open Internet.”

“Networking is the tactic that beat SOPA,” Cheng said, speaking of the Stop Online Piracy Act that drew a widespread  Internet protest against censorship and governmental oversight of the Web.

The league, she said, is designed to continue that momentum.

But they won’t turn on the spotlight without good reason: There is a process where issues are discussed to “see what bubbles to the top,” and then those issues are addressed by the whole network, Cheng said. But, “even at that point, different members will take it on and make their decisions about what to do about it.”

So far, Cheng said, that there was “no one issue that we plan to take on right now.” Rather, the watchdog group of policy experts and organizations will be keeping tabs on the government.

PC Mag reports that along with digital rights groups and websites like Reddit and Mozilla, the league has bipartisan support, including Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Jared Polis, as well as Republican Sen. Jerry Moran and Rep. Darrell Issa.

But despite support from policy makers, “the public can really drive what the league tackles,” Cheng said. “In general, Internet policy has been created in a vacuum and the public has not been involved in those conversations.”

“There are a lot of mini-SOPAs in Congress right now,” Cheng said. “That’s why the league is so important. It’s a structure and network for distributed organizing. We are making a structure so that some of the best reactive and innovative ideas, actions and responses bubble to the top.”

As for the cat logo, Cheng said, “Aren’t cats the mascot of the Internet? The Internet loves kittens.” Cheng, however, is not much of a cat person.

“Honestly, I wish it were a dog,” she concluded.

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