It's a bird, it's a plane -- it's the Internet Defense League

Digital activists unite to fight Internet evil; whether they turn out to be superheroes or superzeros remains to be seen

The stalwart souls who are fighting to keep the Internet free from tyranny have conjured up a new strategy to combat the forces of evil: spandex and capes.

Yesterday, in response to the Cat Signal shining in the sky over New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., the Internet Defense League arrived to save the day. The IDL is a superhero-themed attempt to restore the momentum generated by last January's Internet "blackout" protest of SOPA and PIPA, and marshal resistance to the evil plans being hatched in Congress. What evil plans? Any evil plans you got -- they're not picky.

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The CISPA cyber security bill is a good bet to launch Cat Signals in the sky when it comes up for a vote in the Senate. There are also a couple of Internet privacy bills kicking around the Senate at the moment, as well as the Obama administration's Privacy Bill of Rights concept; if any of those ever becomes a reality, they're likely to garner some attention from the IDL.

At press time, this league of extraordinary geeks includes Mozilla, WordPress, Reddit, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Center for Democracy and Technology, and 34 lesser-known organizations. All of these sites are, or soon will be, displaying the "laughing cat" icon that IDL has adopted and will be able to instantly organize and participate in protests as needed. What it means beyond that, nobody really knows yet.

Hey, if Scarlett Johansson shows up in that Black Widow cat suit, you can count me in.

Perhaps more notable is who's not on the list: no big players and surprisingly only a handful of the usual digital/civil rights suspects like EFF and CDT. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, and many of the other big names that supported the blackout are sitting this one out so far. Perhaps it's too silly for them; perhaps they are allergic to spandex.

In the meantime, there are plenty of other dastardly supervillains the IDL could do battle with, just to hone their chops.

Take Ballmerus of Redmond, for example. For more than a decade he has planted the seeds of Microsoft's destruction, which are finally bearing fruit. Yesterday the company posted its first quarterly loss in its 26 years of existence. Surely the IDL can save the Softies from Ballmerus' evil clutches.

Then there's the sad saga of the lovely Princess Marissa, who has apparently fallen under the spell of the Joker and been convinced to run a ragged band of Yahooligans. Someone needs to rescue her before it's too late.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Google's Larry Page, Zynga's Marc Pincus, Oracle's Larry Ellison, not to mention a few dozen senators and Congressfolk -- the world is full of supervillains who deserve their comeuppance at the hands of the IDL.

Let's hope so. The future of the free Internet may depend on it.

What other supervillains are out there? Can the IDL bring them to justice? Share your super thoughts below or email me:

This article, "It's a bird, it's a plane -- it's the Internet Defense League," was originally published at Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.