Internet Defense League

Online freedom mobilizers
Internet Defense League


After the Internet Blackout helped stop SOPA and PIPA, the Internet Defense League formed to make sure censorship never takes over the internet.
Internet Defense League
Internet Defense League Overview ‧ read
In January 2012, the U.S. House of Congress attempted to pass two internet censorship bills: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Internet users were outraged and organized the biggest online protest in history. Known as the Internet Blackout, millions of ordinary people joined the protest on January 18, 2012. The protest was a triumph over internet censorship; SOPA and PIPA were removed from further voting.

The people who organized the Internet Blackout knew the fight wasn’t over, so they formed the Internet Defense League to “defend the internet from bad laws and monopolies” and “make sure the internet never loses. Ever.”

Let’s meet the Internet Defense League.

Internet Defense League, mobilize!

When it comes to protecting internet freedom, we know there’s no time to lose. The Internet Defense League (IDL) launched in March 2012, just two months after the Internet Blackout took place. The IDL asks people to join the fight by adding anti-censorship alerts and badges to their websites.

The Internet Defense League is a loose coalition that can mobilize swiftly against online censorship. The objective is to involve thousands of websites, from corporate sites to personal blogs and everything in between.

The IDL boasts some internet heavyweights in its ranks, such as Mozilla, Reddit, WordPress, and ExpressVPN.

With the combined reach of our websites and social networks, we can be massively more effective than any one organization.
The League knows that there is strength in numbers: “When the internet's in danger and we need millions of people to act, the League will ask its members to broadcast an action... With the combined reach of our websites and social networks, we can be massively more effective than any one organization.”

Light up with the cat signal

How do IDL members know when the internet is in danger and needs their help? With the help of the cat signal.

Internet defense league
Members of the League will raise the cat in times of need, calling other members to action.

“There's this academic theory... that talks about if you ban the ability of people to share cat photos, they'll start protesting en masse,” said IDL organizer Tiffiniy Cheng. “The idea is we're building the infrastructure to put up this cat signal or this bat signal all over the internet at a moment's notice with the click of a button.”

Who’s at the top of the Internet Defense League?

The Internet Defense League was founded by Tiffiniy Cheng and Alexis Ohanian. Cheng is an artist, activist, and co-director of digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future. Ohanian is an American entrepreneur best known for co-founding Reddit.

Today the IDL is run by Fight for the Future and a group of volunteers.

How people can support the Internet Defense League

IDL isn’t a campaign that actively fights for internet freedom year around. It’s more like Godzilla—a giant monster ready to rise from the sea and defend our rights when needed.

Here's how YOU can make the IDL even stronger.

Join the League. Almost any kind of website can join, including YouTube channels, Tumblr blogs, and Twitter streams. Individuals can also sign up with just an email address.

Get the Anti-censorship Network code. Members can embed the IDL’s Anti-censorship Network code into their websites. Then, “whenever someone visits from a country with internet censorship, we show them circumvention information hosted by our network of mirror servers.” Members receive new code as new privacy threats emerge so their calls to action stay relevant.

Host a mirror server. The IDL also invites web developers to host the mirror servers that power its Anti-censorship Network.

Donate to the cause. The IDL asks for monetary donations from members to enable its small staff to keep working behind the scenes.

The internet is a safer place with the IDL around

With the Internet Blackout of 2012, online communities showed they could come together to defeat censorship, even when their opponent was the most powerful government in the world.

The Internet Defense League has formalized a movement and rallied the support of websites beloved by millions of users worldwide. Most importantly, the League is ready to act if censorship rears its ugly head again.

Hopefully the IDL will never need to shine its cat signal across the web. But we’re glad it’s there, just in case.