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House Lifts Ban on Low-Cost Video Conferencing Software
Posted by on June 30, 2011 | comments
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By Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05)

This week the House Technology Operations Team led by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), and Chairman of the House Administration Committee Dan Lungren (R-CA) announced that the House’s ban on using Skype and ooVoo video teleconference (VTC) calls has finally been lifted.

As a member of the Tech Operations Team and co-chair of the Republican New Media Caucus, I hope this decision will enable better communications between all Members of Congress and their constituents.

As we’ve recently seen with other initiatives, the new House Majority is committed to effectively using new technologies to conduct the people’s business and tap into the great ideas and wisdom of the American people.

The House’s decision permitting VTC calls is part of that commitment. And that hasn’t gone without notice. The site TechPresident.com lauded the decision this week, calling the 112th “the most digitally inclined Congress in U.S. history.”

Now that I can use Skype and ooVoo in my official office, I will be better able to communicate with my constituents and solicit their feedback, while also saving precious taxpayer dollars. Whether it’s talking with constituents serving in the Armed Forces overseas, or talking with students in classrooms across Eastern Washington, there is great potential in using these low-cost consumer solutions.

By way of background, in April 2010, several colleagues and I sent a letter to then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling on the House to ease restrictions on the use of video teleconferencing.

For their part, Skype noted in a blog post that they hope their service, “[W]ill open up new channels of communication between government officials and the people they represent, and potentially help reduce costs, increase transparency, and improve communications…”

Stay tuned to the blog for future updates, and feel free to tell us what you think of the decision on Twitter or Facebook.

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