A group of online activists, headed by Tiffiniy Cheng of Fight for the Future and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, have formed the Internet Defense League to warn web users of damaging legislation being crafted and organize website owners to protest in the name of Internet freedom. The initiative was inspired by the January 18 "blackout" that shut down SOPA and PIPA but will make it easier for anyone to participate.

The idea is fairly simple: anyone with a website signs up using an email address, and whenever a bit of legislation that threatens the open Web pops up, the IDL will release a piece of code that webmasters can embed on their site to display a warning message. It should be noted that the warning message is not displayed automatically, as the decision to participate on each protest remains with the site owner.

The league likens itself to an Internet version of the "bat signal", the idea is to get more people informed and ready to take action. The reach of their message will depend greatly on the web properties backing the initiative. So far, WordPress, Reddit and the Cheeseburger network have already signed up to the league, and Wikipedia, which was instrumental in the anti-SOPA protest, is also considering membership.

Of course, small website owners are also welcome to join in. As IDL explains it:

"Internet freedom and individual power are changing the course of history. But entrenched institutions and monopolies want this to stop. Elected leaders often don't understand the internet, so they're easily confused or corrupted. [...] The Internet Blackout was just the beginning. Together, our websites and personal networks can mobilize the planet to defend the Internet from bad laws and monopolies."

For now the league is targeting ACTA in June and CISPA as it re-emerges in the Senate.