Just when you thought Reddit couldn't become more powerful, Rep. Zoe Lofgren has enlisted the power of the crowd to help her write a new Internet law. It's right up Reddit's alley, too. Lofgren's law will legislate how domain name seizures are handled in the United States, specifically in the cases of copyright infringement, accusations of libel and obscenity.
The new law would apply to cases like that of Kim Dotcom and Megaupload, not to mention the hundreds of cases that the U.S. Department of Justice has pursed with two separate sting operations against suspected violators. Redditors do not like it when the government seizes domain names, which is exactly why Lofgren, a California Democrat, says she wants their help with her new law. In a note posted on her website, Lofgren wrote:
During SOPA I saw firsthand the Reddit community's strong dedication to free expression. Because of that dedication, I thought I would attempt an experiment: crowdsourcing a legislative proposal on Reddit. The goal of the legislation would be to build due process requirements into domain name seizures for copyright infringement. I'd like your thoughts on the proposal.
What an opportunity! Lofgren went on to say that her "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."
Giving the Internet a chance to defend itself is another classic Reddit-approved principle, so the upvoting masses must've been all over this, right? Well, according to the actual comments upvotes on Lofgren's Reddit posting, not so much. Although she did inspire some pretty lengthy and remarkably polite diatribes, Lofgren fell short of winning the community's undivided attention. As of this posting, she'd only earned 136 upvotes, which is at least 1,000 short of what she'd need to make it to the front page of the front page of the Internet. They're thoughtful, though, and we wouldn't be surprised if some of the Redditors' ideas made it into the final draft of the bill.
We're more interested in the overall trend of America's most powerful leaders turning to Reddit for guidance. Obama did his AMA (ask me anything) at the tail end of the election, because his data nerds told him to do it. Rep. Darrell Issa has done a number of them and leaned hard on the Reddit community during the SOPA-PIPA battle last year. Lofgren just took it a step further by asking Redditors directly to help her write a law. What's next? A candidate running for office on a Reddit ticket? Stranger things have happened…
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.