Democrats Move to Legalize Skype Use in Congress

Updated: January 07, 2011

Democrats Move to Legalize Skype Use in Congress

The House Committee on Administration of the US Congress has recently begun reviewing House security policies to allow Congresspeople to use Skype. Skype and several other similar video conferencing sites have been blocked on all House computers since 2006, mainly because Democrats once believed these sites were a security risk to congressional networks.

That attitude has changed recently, most notably following a letter sent by House Republican leaders to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Committee on Administration Chairman Robert Brady on March 20, 2010.

In the letter, Republicans argued that “Current House rules allow Members of Congress to use taxpayer funds to conduct traditional, often expensive, video teleconferencing activities with their constituents, but forbid them from using Skype -- which is practically free -- for such activities.”

They said that “We are certain that Skype, an increasingly relevant communication tool for Americans already widely used in the private sector, could be easily implemented in Congress in a manner that would not reduce the security of the House IT infrastructure.”

In order to change the ban on Skype, House Democrats would have to amend the policy, a process which, according to Congressman Kyle Anderson of the House Committee on Administration, is “currently underway.” Anderson went on to say that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who requested the committee to begin this process, is “committed to ensuring that communication tools are available for Members to reach their constituents.”

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