Zoe Lofgren, current representative for California’s 16th congressional district, will be taking to Reddit on the 19th of November to ask the site’s users how they think web freedoms would best be protected. Their responses will help build a new piece of legislation that will be put before congress in 2013.
While Reddit is famous for its Ask Me Anything sessions, where famous or interesting people answer questions on their lives, Mrs Lofgren will be asking them instead. While internet users might not often taken too kindly to politicians, Lofgren was a previous vocal opponent of SOPA, PIPA and CISPA – three bills that threatened web freedom quite heavily.
“We need to do more than just halt bad legislation, we also need to improve existing laws and make government work in the interests of innovation and Internet freedom,” she said, speaking with TechCrunch. “Sopa clearly showed that we need a new generation of forward-thinking laws to secure the internet’s continued success. So let us direct the tremendous energy that killed Sopa toward enacting strong pro-internet policies.”
One of the biggest concerns of the bills she’s previously opposed, as well as ACTA, was that they could be used as a method for shutting down sites without a fair trial. If a copyright holder believed it was being infringed, it could have sites delisted from the internet – effectively killing them – without investigation. Lofgren’s bill seems likely to put safeguards in place to protect this. In fact she has already publicly addressed this problem, pointing to the many months of down time Dajaz1 experienced, simply because the RIAA took a long time to gather up its documents.
“A blog has the same protections as a newspaper or magazine, and yet ICE saw fit to seize this site for over a year for dubious reasons,” Lofgren said. “It’s an outrageous abuse of First Amendment and due process rights, raising serious questions about why the Department of Justice allowed this seizure to continue when the government clearly did not have probable cause.”
While quotes like this from a politician are music to the ears of many an internet freedom fighter and simple internet user, there are better ones out there. Wired has collected a few choice ones, perhaps the best of which is: “Domain seizures without due process are a form of censorship. In this instance, 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. While this might be enough for the seizure of stolen cars or knock-off handbags, it is not enough for web sites and speech on the internet. It is disturbing that this administration is treating them the same.”
KitGuru: Zoe Lofgren seems like a dream come true. I’m sure she’d have a few things to say about the Digital Economy Act. Can we elect foreign politicians in this country?