Overturning SOPA early this year may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but it was a massive change in the way the web can influence politics and the other way around. Many thousands of sites banded together, without much of a coordination effort, to fight the evil that threatened the web as a whole. Millions of people saw the protests and took part in one way or another.Frankly, even the people that organized the whole thing were quite surprised at how well it worked and at the scale it did.
Thankfully, SOPA failed. But other perils would come. Still, the massive interest and the effect it had made a lot of people realize that there is something to be done and that they do have a voice.
They used that voice to make themselves heard against ACTA. Very recently, the EU Parliament categorically dismissed the proposed treaty. Internet - 2, copyright maximalists - 0, well not counting the many, many victories they had before this.
A couple of victories do not win the war, especially one against so entrenched and powerful enemies.
There will be other times when people will need to speak up for their rights and their freedoms.
With that in mind, several of the companies, organizations, websites and people that helped put together the initial protests have banded together to form the Internet Defense League.
And just to show you that the IDL means business, they even have a "cat signal" to be used in case of emergencies to rally the people.
The league is backed by Mozilla, Reddit, the EFF and many others. If you leave your email you'll be notified when something bad happens. If you have a website, you can install a widget that warns your readers of the same thing. If you're a developer, there are even more ways to help out.
Of course, all of this sounds good on paper and it's an easy self-pat on the back, the real test will be when it will first be needed. The IDL's entire power comes from you and everyone else that can get involved. But this power needs to be used wisely. Too often and it will be the boy who cried wolf. Not often enough, and bad laws and policies will get through.