Congresswoman turns to Reddit for legislative advice

Turning the tables, Rep. Zoe Lofgren plans to do the question asking in an upcoming Reddit forum. She needs ideas for a bill that will protect Web sites accused of copyright violations.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

Typically when policy makers brainstorm ideas on new legislation, they'll talk to their colleagues or constituents. But California Rep. Zoe Lofgren is trying something different -- she's turning to Reddit.

Lofgren will be tuning into Reddit tomorrow to ask people for ideas on how to best protect Web sites accused of copyright infringement, according to political news site The Hill. The congresswoman is working on new legislation that would notify Web site owners blamed for copyright violations. The law would also halt the government from shutting down Web sites until the owners were able to defend themselves.

"Domain seizures without due process are a form of censorship," Lofgren said in a statement last year, according to The Hill. "Our government has seized domains with nothing more than the rubber stamp of a magistrate, without any prior notice or adversarial process, leaving the authors of these sites with the burden of proving their innocence."

Lofgren -- a Democrat who represents the heart of Silicon Valley -- is known as a friend of the Internet. Not only was she a staunch critic of antipiracy legislation like SOPA and CISPA, but she has also backed bills protecting citizens from government snooping on the Web. For example, she introduced a privacy bill in September that would require law enforcement officials to obtain a search warrant signed by a judge before they accessed users' cloud data or location information.

The congresswoman is not the first politician to go on Reddit. President Obama chatted with users in August and the response was so overwhelming that it crippled the site's servers. The president returned to Reddit again on Election Day for some final campaigning.

While it's not uncommon for politicians and celebrities to talk to users on Reddit, the format is usually a Q&A with the users asking the questions. What's unique about Lofgren's approach is that she will be asking the questions with the hope of crowd-sourcing ideas.

According to The Hill, once Lofgren hears what Reddit users have to say about how to best protect Web sites accused of copyright violations, she aims to work on a bill to possibly introduce in the next Congress.