Following the Internet Blackout of 2012 against SOPA and PIPA, Fight for the Future organized individuals and internet websites into a permanent free-speech and anti-censorship effort, the Internet Defense League.
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Problems and Purpose
The Internet Defense League was launched in March 2012 following the success of online protests against two controversial pieces of United States legislation, the 'Stop Online Piracy Act' (SOPA) and the 'PROTECT (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft) of Intellectual Property Act' (PIPA). According to its official subreddit, the League describes itself as "a network of sites and people that acts together to defend and strengthen our rights online." According to its founding organization, the Fight for the Future, the League aims to "mobilize the planet to defend the internet from bad laws and monopolies."
Background History and Context
In July 2012 Fight for the Future amalgamated tech community companies into the Internet Defense League as a permanent mobilization effort against censorship and surveillance legislation, which rallied against CISPA; Fight for the Future worked with Demand Progress to deliver over 300,000 signatures two days after CISPA was reitroduced, and the Internet Defense League kept up the pressure the following months by deploying its high profile company affiliates to recruit other internet companies into fighting CISPA.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The Internet Defense League was created by Fight for the Future - a leading organization in the anti-SOPA and anti-PIPA protests - and Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit - a site for the aggragation, discussion, and rating of online content. The League's website includes Cloudflare as a lead organizer although it is unclear what role the ecommerce website plays.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Since its creation in 2012, numerous organizations, individuals, collectives, and companies have joined the League's network. Members include: 4chan, Access Now, Avvo, BoingBoing, CDT, Cheezburger Network, Citizens for Self Governance, Computer and Communications Industry Association, Craigs Connect, CREDO Mobile, Demand Progress, Doll Divine, Dutch Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake, ECA, EFF, Fark.com, Free Press, Grooveshark, HotspotShield, Hypemachine, Indenti.ca, Imgur, La Quadrature, Mozilla, Open Media (Canada), Open Technology Institute, OverBlog, Participatory Politics Foundation, Personal Democracy Media, PHP, Piwik, Politihacks, Private Internet Access, Public Knowledge, Reddit, Restore Privacy, ROFLCon, Ruckus, Song Meanings, Statusnet, Tech Dirt, Tor, Torrentfreak, US Representative Darrell Issa, VPN.com, WordPress, and Zoe Lofgren.
Methods and Tools Used
Public shaming involving high-profile technology and internet service companies.
For example, after CISPA was reitroduced, Internet Defense League kept up the pressure on Congress and pitted members against other large internet-based companies who collaborated in surveillance efforts to pressure them into renouncing and fighting against CISPA. This included Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian trying to call Google CEO Larry Page and Twitter and Facebook headquarters in a YouTube video as part of a shaming campaign, although a few months later Snowden would reveal their silence on CISPA reflected active complicity, not ambivalence. The coallition also used the attention from the Snowden revelations to turn Independence Day (July 4th, 2013) into 4th Amendment (protection against unreasonable search and seizure) rallies in New York, Washington DC, San Francisco, Dallas, called "Restore the Fourth".
Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction
The Internet Defense League acts as a mobilizer of anti-piracy and pro-internet freedom organizations. When a threat is detected, the "#CatSignal shines" (is sent out) and League members take steps to "defend net neutrality." According the the website, when the #CatSignal is out, "the internet's in danger [...] we need millions of people to act, [so] the League will ask its members to broadcast an action. (Say, a prominent message asking everyone to call their elected leaders.) With the combined reach of our websites and social networks, we can be massively more effective than any one organization."
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
Analysis and Lessons Learned
 r/internetdefense, "Community Details," Reddit, https://www.reddit.com/r/internetdefense/
 Fight for the Future Education Fund, https://www.fftfef.org/
 "Participating Members," The Internet Defense League, https://www.internetdefenseleague.org/members/
 "Who's behind it?," The Internet Defense League, https://www.internetdefenseleague.org/members/
 "Beyond the Blackout," The Internet Defense League, https://www.internetdefenseleague.org
 "The Plan," The Internet Defense League, https://www.internetdefenseleague.org
Lead image: "Cat Signal" The Internet Defense League https://goo.gl/XwNSdY