Earlier this year, David All and I wrote a section of the Open House Project calling for the House to review and rewrite arcane franking regulations as applied to member Web sites. According to Roll Call, it looks like this is actually going to happen. If you've ever been to a congressional Web site you've probably noticed the lack of interactivity, multimedia, and linking that is common in today's Internet. That's because of unwritten, nonspecific, arbitrary rules that are unevenly applied across member Web sites. Members can't post YouTube videos, link to MySpace, ask people to Digg something on their site, or have a blogroll. All of that may be changing soon:
Regulations prohibit content that can be construed as an advertisement or as purely personal information, such as links to fundraisers or support for partisan causes. Now, the new phenomenon of social networking sites — and the increasing use of them by Members — is testing the application of such rules in a multimedia world.
House and Senate officials say several Members are not in compliance, though none apparently have been disciplined. It’s time, they say, to update the rules to match the technology.
The House Administration Committee has been drafting possible changes for months, as has the Senate Rules and Administration Committee.