January’s web-wide protests of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) were effective. They were so effective, in fact, that the alarming piece of legislation fell apart and died in its tracks.
The threat is far from over, however, as other nefarious pieces of legislation have popped up in its place, including ACTA and CISPA.
Now, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian and several other activists want to make sure that the internet stays safe from these threats.
They want to be able to organize regular SOPA-type mass protests with the push of a button.
Ohanian, 29, has partnered with the online advocacy group Fight for the Future to create what they’re calling the “Internet Defense League.” Ohanian calls the project, which they hope to launch next month, as a “Bat-Signal for the Internet.”
Any website owner can sign up on the group’s official website to add a snippet of code to his or her site that can automatically be triggered in the event of a political internet censorship crisis like SOPA. The code will even add a call-to-action on all the sites involved, asking users to sign petitions or phone their local lawmakers.
“People who wish to be tapped can see, oh look, the Bat-Signal is up. Time to do something,” says Ohanian. “Whatever website you own, this is a way for you to be notified if something comes up and take some basic actions…If we aggregate everyone that’s doing it, the numbers start exploding.”
The embedded code could do something as simple as displaying a banner ad, or something as complex as blacking out a website, much list we did here at Blippitt earlier this year.
“We’ll invent something at the time, and it will be some really unified and shocking action,” says Tiffiny Cheng, co-director of political advocacy group Fight for the Future. “We’re creating the tools and the forms of protest that allow for viral organizing. That’s how the SOPA protests were able to get started and grow to the level they did.”
So far, Cheng says, Reddit, Imgur, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Cheezburger Network, Mozilla, and the non-profit Public Knowledge have all signed up. The group hopes that eventually thousands of sites will join up with the project.
In recent weeks, Fight for the Future has been focused on fighting CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protect Act.
The bill, which was originally meant to allow sharing of data between the private sector and government agencies for cybersecurity purposes, was amended just before being passed in the House in April to allow companies to hand over any user data they wish to the government without worrying about existing privacy laws, for reasons that are really quite vague. One of two Senate versions of CISPA is expected to come up for a vote early next month.
Last week, Fight for the Future launched an anti-CISPA site, Privacy is Awesome, where users are asked to phone their senators and request meetings to discuss the bill. Ohanian has spoken out against CISPA as well, asking investors not to buy shares of Facebook stock as a form of protest against the company’s support for CISPA.
If you’d like to add your website to the Internet Defense League, you can do by visiting their official website here.
- Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian updates us on his book, talks CISPA [video] (thenextweb.com)
- Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian won’t invest Facebook because of CISPA support (venturebeat.com)