Casual Evangelist

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Posts Tagged ‘Representative Tim Ryan’

House Leadership Moves to Silence Twittering Members

Posted by Andrew on July 8, 2008

I’ve been following and interacting with two members of the US House of Representatives, John Culberson, Republican from Texas, and Tim Ryan, Democrat from Ohio. It has been great and refreshing to have this direct line of communication with these two Members of Congress and gain insights into what’s happening on Capitol Hill, often a black hole of mystery unless it’s your full time job to know what’s going on.

Rep. Culberson just sent a series of messages on Twitter indicating that the Democratic House Leadership is requiring that he submit each message for approval prior to posting. This move apparently invokes a little-known broader regulation that all Member communications posted on any public social networking site receive prior approval.

While I’m not even in a position to shed light on the Constitutionality of such a regulation, it surely flies in the face of government openness and transparency? What is the Democratic leadership trying to hide or keep from the public? The beauty of Twitter and similar platforms is that they are open communications for public consumption. I’ll spare any conjecture regarding potential motives behind such a move, political or not.

The Sunlight Foundation should explore this and weigh in to see if this is an attempt to silence public communication from our elected representatives in government.

UPDATE: Rep. Culberson got some clarity. Time to end centralized control and censorship of communications from government and elected officials. Thoughts?

Here’s Rep Capuano’s letter proposing changes. I’m a dolt…I can’t make heads or tails of which way this letter is going.

UPDATE #2: George Donnelly has a great list of articles and posts about this issue. Aaron Brazell has some comprehensive coverage of the issue.

Update #4: A site has been launched: LetOurCongressTweet.org – produced by The Sunlight Foundation. Way to go!

UPDATE #3: Boehner Gets Involved

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 9, 2008

CONTACTS: Michael Steel, Kevin Smith, Steve Forde – (202) 225-4000

Boehner Urges Speaker Pelosi to Shut Down Democrats’ Proposed Censorship
of the Internet

House GOP Leader Warns: New “YouTube” Rule Proposed by
Democratic-Controlled House Administration Committee “Would Amount to
New Government Censorship of the Internet”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – 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.

“The Internet is a powerful tool for promoting openness and transparency
in government,” Boehner wrote. “It has given individual Americans an
unprecedented window into the daily actions and policy debates of their
Congress. The result has increasingly been a better informed electorate
– better equipped with real-time information about what is happening in
their government, and more empowered to hold their leaders accountable.”

Highlighting the Democratic-controlled House Administration Committee’s
attempts to effectively shut down the free flow of information on the
Internet between Members of Congress and the American people, Boehner
assailed the proposed rule.

“If this proposed rule were to be implemented, Americans who currently
use free websites such as YouTube to obtain uncensored daily information
on congressional policy debates would suddenly be forced to visit
websites ‘approved’ by the House Administration Committee in order to
continue getting such information,” explained Boehner. “This would
amount to new government censorship of the Internet, by a panel of
federal officials that is neither neutral nor independent.”

Urging Speaker Pelosi to join him in opposing the Democratic-controlled
House Administration Committee’s planned actions, Boehner concluded,
“Millions of Americans get information about what is happening in their
government through the Internet and free websites like YouTube. I am
writing to seek your assurance that the Democratic majority does not
intend to deprive them of this right, and to request that you join me in
opposing the proposed new rules.”

Boehner’s full letter to Pelosi follows and is available by clicking
here
.

July 9, 2008

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House
H-232, U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Speaker Pelosi:

The Internet is a powerful tool for promoting openness and transparency
in government. It has given individual Americans an unprecedented
window into the daily actions and policy debates of their Congress. The
result has increasingly been a better informed electorate – better
equipped with real-time information about what is happening in their
government, and more empowered to hold their leaders accountable.

It has come to my attention that the Democratic-controlled Committee on
House Administration, at the recommendation of the Democratic chairman
of the Commission on Mailing Standards (Franking Commission), is
considering the adoption of new congressional rules that would
effectively shut down what has emerged as a free and helpfully
uncensored pipeline of real-time information between the American people
and their elected leaders. Specifically, the Committee is considering
the adoption of new rules 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.

If this proposed rule were to be implemented, Americans who currently
use free websites such as YouTube to obtain uncensored daily information
on congressional policy debates would suddenly be forced to visit
websites “approved” by the House Administration Committee in order to
continue getting such information. This would amount to new government
censorship of the Internet, by a panel of federal officials that is
neither neutral nor independent.

I believe Members of Congress should have the ability to choose
whichever service they believe will best assist in communicating with
their constituents, and not be limited to only services “approved” by
the House Administration Committee or any other government entity. We
must encourage, not restrict, the free and open flow of uncensored
information between the American people and their elected leaders over
the Internet.

Members should be allowed to use technologies, websites, and services
(paid or unpaid) to communicate with their constituents via text, video,
or audio, so long as the content posted by the Member complies with
House rules and Franking content regulations. Members should be allowed
to use free communications and networking services so long as those
services are available on the same terms and conditions available to
others. This view has been expressed formally to the Democratic
Chairman of the Committee on House Administration, Rep. Robert Brady, by
the Committee’s senior Republican member, Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI), and
by Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Tom Price (R-GA).

Millions of Americans get information about what is happening in their
government through the Internet and free websites like YouTube. I am
writing to seek your assurance that the Democratic majority does not
intend to deprive them of this right, and to request that you join me in
opposing the proposed new rules.

Sincerely,

Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)
House Republican Leader

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