Congressman John Culberson (R-TX) reports via Twitter that the Committee on House Administration of the US House of Representatives is considering classifying all content posted by members of the House on websites outside the house.gov domain to be official communications [PDF], which must “meet existing content rules and regulations”.
Current rules require that content be submitted to the House Franking Committee for approval, prior to publication.
House Franking Committee Would Need to Approve Each Posting
According to Congressman Culberson:
Before I could post a Tweet I would have to get approval of the twits that run the House! #
The rule proposed by the Dems would require me to submit this Tweet to the House Franking Comm for prior approval before I cuold [sic] post it #
“An Attack on Free Speech”
House Republican Leader John Boehner adds:
Iâ€™m writing to alert you to an attack on free speech that is making its way through Congress. This attack, which should concern activists of all political affiliations across the ideological spectrum, comes in the form of a new congressional rule that would prohibit Americans from viewing content published by Members of Congress on websites that are not â€œapprovedâ€ by the Committee on House Administration, the panel that creates rules governing the internal operations of the U.S. House.
This is a Threat to Efforts at Transparency in Government
This is a threat not only to efforts at transparency in government but also to free speech. It is inconceivable that the popular house of our national legislature actively regulates its own members speech. It defines every communication (except those that are personal or campaign-related) as official, and demands the right to deny the distribution of those communications.
We Need Unfettered Communication with Political Leaders
Instead of making a fuss, congressional leaders should be promoting greater use of the internet by legislators. We need more Congresspeople blogging, making videos and conversing with Americans on Twitter. Direct and unfettered communication with political leaders is what we need to achieve the mass democracy that is an implicit promise in the telecommunications breakthrough we call the Internet. It’s long overdue, that’s for sure.
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House Republican Leader Boehner’s Press Release
Andrew Wright has the full text of a press release by House Republican leader John Boehner (R-OH).
House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) today wrote to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), urging her to join him in opposing a new rule proposed by the Democratic leadership of the House Administration Committee that would require outside websites such as YouTube to comply with House regulations before Members of Congress could post videos on them. Under the proposal, the House Administration Committee would develop a list of â€œapprovedâ€ websites, and Members of Congress would be restricted to only publishing content using these sites. Calling it â€œnew government censorship of the Internet,â€ Boehner asked Speaker Pelosi to join him in opposing the proposed rule.
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