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A bat signal for the internet  

Although I don't like the idea of being a sock puppet for someone else's cause, I also am genuinely worried about the ceaseless attempts to screw up the internet coming from US lawmakers.

An old saying is that each country gets the government that they deserve. Unfortunately, given the US's disproportionate influence on the internet (for now, anyway), we all get the government that they deserve. If the US passes a SOPA/PIPA-like laws, which they will if american voters are not vigilant, we'll all pay for that. The copyright industries in the US are willing to attack the fundamental principles that allow the internet to operate, in order to delay the death of their obsolete business models for a few more years. They have money, lobbyists, access, and persistence.

I believe the best way forward is to stop being defensive and go on the offense. This would mean, rather than a bat signal, we need a batman to go and take down these cartels where they are (no, Anonymous is not it). Or even better than a batman, we need that other guy, before half his face gets burned off, to go and start submitting bills (and getting support for them) that the copyright industries will have to defend against (no, Ron Paul is not it).

As long as we're on the defensive, we only need to fail once to lose, and we have to be vigilant forever. It's a game that's guaranteed to end badly.

Switch to the offensive, and we only need to win once to win.

I understand that truly important rights are enshrined in the numerous amendments to the US constitution. The rights that the internet depends on belong there too, along with freedom of speech, habeas corpus, the right to fair trial, freedom from slavery, and universal suffrage. A law that endangers the internet's basic functioning should be as difficult to pass as a law that allows corporations to buy slaves.

In the meantime, though, a bat signal is a good idea as an intermediate defense measure. I've signed up to this, and will add the script that will enable swombat.com to participate in future group actions against internet-threatening bills (which will no doubt come thick and fast in the next few years).

More from the library:
Kevin McDonagh on: How to attend a conference
Kapil Kale's underground guide to PR for startups
Power blogging hour: an approach to startup blogs