Senate Opens the Door for Web 2.0 Usage

Back in July, we covered the story about Congressional use of Twitter and social tools ad nauseum. Frankly, it was an epic story around here – defining in many ways – and has opened the door for other opportunities to be involved in the political and policy discussion around Washington, D.C.

I plan to have Congressman John Culberson, who was at the center of the House controversy, on the Aaron Brazell Show in weeks to come to discuss the changes and progress being made in the House, it’s important to note that the Senate actually has taken the first step to modernize and unshackle legislators hands.

Andrew Noyes writes Wednesday in Congress Daily about the changes (subscription only):

As part of the change, Rules Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein and ranking member Robert Bennett included some exceptions. A member, committee or office may separately maintain Web sites or post material on third-party platforms as long as they abide by guidelines.

The Rules Committee plans to offer a “non exhaustive list” of approved third-party sites. Those sites must agree to disclose when content is maintained by a Senate office and is banned from adding commercial or political material or links to an office-maintained page.

The rules also go on to outline rules for the third party websites, prohibiting data collection of personally identifiable information about users.

All in all, common sense approaches to web/government crossover and it’s nice to see that the Senate rules never become a political football like the House rules did. The House is trying to mirror these rule changes on their side.

Statement on House Rules and Social Media Use

Today, I’ve spent a significant amount of time working the story that broke yesterday and that we’ve been following closely. There seems to be some real bogus propaganda flying around this issue and I want to clarify the position I’ve stated repeatedly around the various places I’ve been discussing the issue.

It’s reprehensible that in 2008, a government for the people and by the people should take this heavy handed approach to “rules” surrounding the use of social communications tools. Yesterday (July 8), Scott Rasmussen released a poll demonstrating that Congress has a 9% approval rating for the first time in history. When you avoid the people you are elected to serve and cutoff the communication channels those constituencies use, it’s not really a surprise. If the House rules are outdated, then the House, in their effort to be transparent, has the ability to quickly change the rules that apply, much as they have demonstrated the ability to do with many other “important” pieces of legislation.

Again, I clarify that this is a non-partisan position and affects both sides of the aisle. The position being bandied by some “gated community” types on Capitol Hill is irresponsible and tone-deaf and if the House wants to remain relevant in the eyes of voters, these “existing rules” must change. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is allegedly proposing similar clamp downs in the Senate.