House Dems Plan to Regulate Congresspeople’s Twitter Posts

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 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:

I’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 “approved” 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.

Vote it Up on Reddit and Digg

You can work against this counterproductive proposal by voting this news up on Digg and Reddit and by contacting your Congressperson.

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 “approved” websites, and Members of Congress would be restricted to only publishing content using these sites. Calling it “new government censorship of the Internet,” Boehner asked Speaker Pelosi to join him in opposing the proposed rule.

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8 replies on “House Dems Plan to Regulate Congresspeople’s Twitter Posts”

Heres how the House leadership will use this rule to control where and what I say and even exercise influence over your website/blog etc

If the Ds rule change were in effect today, before I could post this, your website/blog would have to be preapproved as complying with House rules, my post would require a disclaimer that it was “produced by a House office for official purposes,” and the CONTENT of my post would have to be preapproved by the House Franking Committee as complying with “existing content rules and regulations.”

This is a violation of your First Amendment rights and mine, and is an outrageous attempt by House leadership to stifle and control you and me. If Rs were in charge I would be just as outraged – forget the party label – I do not want the federal gov’t/House of Representatives certifying your website or the content of my posts. I am writing this post personally, in my official capacity, so it would fall precisely under their new rule and you and I would both be in violation unless we subjected ourselves and my words to their prior approval/editing.

I am always ready to admit I am wrong but I am an attorney and this is what the letter means.

This is a story worth following because I am going to continue to vigorously exercise my First Amendment rights on every social media outlet I can reach. Itis my right as an American and my duty as a representative.


John Culberson

Great compilation of the coverage on this issue. I’ve been aware of rules regarding Congressional use of social media tools, but this is the first time I’ve seen it in action (I don’t know if it’s been enforced before though). I hope this incident gets the attention it deserves and leads to the removal of these top-down communication control regulations.

Thanks Andrew, I liked your article too.

Congress needs to hire some consultants and get smart about the web. With a 9% approval rating, they need to become part of the conversation, ASAP.

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