A new and possibly very important organisation has just launched on the internet. They are made up from online businesses, political groups and lawyers have joined together to form a group called the Internet Defence League. They have been inspired by the attempt by big businesses to implement the awful SOPA which would have threatened virtually everything that was good about the net.
Congress backed down on SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) after a huge response online from literally millions of people online. It was a great example of digital democracy – banding together to block something that would have destroyed internet freedom. One of the issues that was highlighted is how long it takes to organise an effective protest online.
So someone came up with rather a good idea based on the hit show Batman. When Gotham city was in trouble, the mayor would ask Batman for help by shining a big Bat signal in the sky. The Internet Defence League has adapted to produce the Cat Signal.
It is actually a small piece of code that you can install on any web site, forum or blog. The code can then be activated whenever some threat to the freedom of the internet is created. So if you see the cat signal on a few web sites you know that likely some piece of terrible legislation is making it’s way through congress or something like that.
It is something that is well needed, there is a growing sense that the internet is being taken over by governments and big business. I forget how many times I get blocked surfing around the internet – it used to never happen. I kept getting so fed up with restrictions on web sites based on location I now have a dedicated proxy service to bypass them. It even helps me watch the BBC abroad check this out – http://www.theninjaproxy.org/tv/how-to-use-a-bbc-iplayer-proxy/.
This digital signal will hopefully not need to be used very often but I suspect we might get used to seeing it. There are some pretty big websites signing up to this league and incorporating the code.