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Leslie Harris Headshot

A League of Our Own

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After the historic SOPA-PIPA Internet blackout last winter, there was some question about whether that epic moment was the beginning of a sustained online movement for Internet freedom. In the last few months the answer is beginning to emerge.

The diverse set of groups that participated in SOPA have stayed in the game, becoming an important and effective grassroots force against CISPA, and for greater privacy protections in the Senate cybersecurity bill. At the same time, groups are coming together to test new strategies, form new partnerships and to begin building an infrastructure for quickly calling the Internet to action. Enter the Internet Defense League (IDL).

Launched last week by Fight for the Future, the IDL aims to broadly distribute code that will allow its members to quickly get the word out about threats (and perhaps opportunities) and organize the Internet to act. My organization -- CDT -- has joined the IDL because we believe that this is exactly the right kind of start-up we need in a post-SOPA world. We don't expect to always reach agreement on the course of action, nor are we expected to. The IDL is not a coalition and we are not obligated to march in lockstep with each other. But, we ought to be taking risks and trying out innovative ways to keep us talking and building the movement and the IDL is a great idea that deserves a chance to succeed.

Some people don't get the IDL's "cat signal" beyond its obvious play on words. I see it as a light-hearted and sly reference to the LOL cats. We waste a fair amount of time following kitty antics online. We might as well put them to work for the open Internet. This work is serious, but really, it's O.K. to have some fun, too.

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