House relents on New Media, adopts updated rules for Web video

Congressional use of online video, (an issue that this site has covered since the beginning) finally got over its last hurdle today as the Committee on House Administration adopted new rules allowing use of outside websites by Members. The Committee approved a proposal based on reccomendations made in July by Rep. Vern Ehlers, R-Mich., in a letter to Franking Commission chairman Robert Brady, D-Mass.

From the release:

WASHINGTON ““ The Committee on House Administration adopted new web regulations that will permit Members to use outside websites like YouTube to communicate with constituents.  The new regulations, which are based upon a proposal presented in June by GOP Members of the Committee, represent a vital step to providing new, uncensored channels of communication between Members of Congress and their constituents.
The new web regulations, which were adopted via Committee poll, permit Members to post content on outside websites so long as the content is for “œofficial purposes,” and not personal, commercial or campaign related.

House Minority leader John Boener, R-Ohio issued the following statement:

“œI commend Chairman Brady and Ranking Member Ehlers for their leadership on this important matter.  The Internet is a powerful tool that gives Americans an unprecedented window into the daily actions of their government.  It’s critical for Congress to embrace new technology in all forms in order to more efficiently communicate with their constituents and promote increased openness and transparency in government.

“œThese new guidelines are a step in the right direction for a Congress that has been behind the technological curve for too long.  By encouraging the use of emerging and established new media tools, Congress is sending the message that we want to speak to citizens, and receive feedback, in the most open and accessible manner possible.

“œI’m pleased Chairman Brady and Ranking Member Ehlers were able to work in a bipartisan fashion and steer clear of proposals that could have had a negative effect on congressional transparency and open government.”

I’ll admit, I am more than pleased to see that the CHA has put this issue to bed. I first broke the story in a July 3rd article in Washington Internet Daily, and it quickly exploded into a mini-controversy, hitting CNN, the New York Times, and causing a bit a dustup in the House.

Here are two clips of the interview with Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, that started it all.

In addition, Culberson is one of the co-chairs of the newly created GOP New Media Caucus, along with Rob Wittman, R-Va. and Bob Latta, R-Ohio.

Right now members and staff have indicated that this is a Republican-led effort. Calls to Democratic leadership have not been returned, understandably because new media is probably the last thing on their minds right now.

We will bring you as much news as we can on this topic as Congressional use of new/social media moves into the mainstream.

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Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.