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Chaffetz pleased with lifting of House Skype ban

Published: Wednesday, June 29 2011 6:35 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Want to Skype with your congressman? You can, now that a ban on Internet video chat has been lifted by the House of Representatives.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, leads a house panel that oversees issues involving technology. He made the announcement Tuesday that Skype and ooVoo had overcome security hurdles and were OK for congressional use.

“It’s something that members on both sides of the aisle have been requesting and wanting in their communications, and now it’s a green light — go, all thumbs up — so we’ll see what happens,” Chaffetz said Wednesday.

Chaffetz said the services would be helpful in being present in more town hall and community meetings from afar — where before, something would have had to have been recorded prior to airing in those venues.

Prior to the ban, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed worries about security breaches and insisted new protocols be implemented before the services were OK'd.

“There were some concerns about how people might tap into that — could they manipulate the camera going the other direction, turn something on,” Chaffetz said. “You also had a lot of sensitive data and didn’t want somebody to surreptitiously get to a classified area.”

Chaffetz said the House is one of the biggest terror targets and a constant target of online attacks. He said Skype and ooVoo now provide a sufficient amount of encryption.

Members of Congress can use the services immediately. It is unclear how fast all congressional offices will be up and running with the infrastructure. Chaffetz said Wednesday his office was working to get up to speed.

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