Lawmaker Uses Reddit to Craft New Law on Domain Name Seizures

Feds shut down more than 700 websites

A number of lawmakers have taken to the Internet to crowdsource ideas for laws and policy. The latest is Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who is using the Reddit community to help her craft a proposal to protect websites accused of copyright infringement.

Lofgren's bill would modify current law that led to the seizure of more than 700 websites under Operations in Our Sites, a U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Department of Justice program.

"While I do not support copyright infringement, these domain name seizures have resulted in the removal of websites containing lawful content, without notice or a hearing for the website owner," Lofgren said in a statement. In two instances, against the hip-hop blog Dajaz1 and sports Streaming site Rojadirecta, the government was forced to drop its case after it realized it lacked evidence to support a charge of copyright infringement.

Lofgren chose Reddit for her crowdsourcing experiment because of its political activism, established when the social media platform helped organize the Internet community's protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act.

"During SOPA I saw first-hand the Reddit community's strong dedication to free expression," said Lofgren, who also emerged during the SOPA fight as one of the leading Internet policy lawmakers on the Hill.

"The goal is to develop targeted legislation that requires the government to provide notice and an opportunity for website operators to defend themselves prior to seizing or redirecting their domain names," Lofgren said in her post on Monday. "So Internet policy experts and free speech warriors: How specifically, would you suggest accomplishing these goals?"

Others in Washington that have used Reddit's Ask Me Anything chats include President Barack Obama, and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)

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