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May 02, 2013

YouTube Gives Live Streaming, 'Enhanced Features' to Congress

By Nicole Spector, Contributing Writer

Acting on its power as the dominant video-sharing website, YouTube (News - Alert) is now offering members of the U.S. Congress the ability to live stream video and is giving them access to enhanced features on their YouTube channels. The services are free.

Members of Congress can choose to broadcast speeches, meetings or any other aspect of their daily routines. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, they show, and how it will catch on with the public. Optimally, the service would help Congresspeople reach Americans with an effective narrative, and let citizens in on their private lives, potentially even making them appear more likable if campaigning. 

Robert Kyncl, vice president, global head of content partnerships for YouTube, stresses video as a bonding experience, and suggests that it can greatly benefit our democracy.

“Video plays a powerful role in bringing us closer together, especially when it connects people in real time. By transcending borders, empowering citizens and increasing transparency, it’s one of the many ways technology allows democracy to thrive. Starting this week, all members of the U.S. Congress will have the opportunity to access enhanced features on their YouTube channels, including the ability to live stream video,” Kyncl said.

Google (News - Alert) has shared the letters sent to both the House and the Senate from the Committee on House Administration and the committee on Rules and Administration that outline YouTube's plan to make live streaming a free option for members of Congress.

In the House letter, YouTube's livestreaming option is compared to video communications platforms Skype (News - Alert) and ooVoo, while the Senate letter aimed to quell any anxieties Senators may have about the feature, assuring that YouTube is in full compliance with Senate Internet Regulations, as stipulated by a previous agreement.

What remains shrouded in mystery are these so-called “enhanced features” YouTube is letting Congress in on, and Google isn't saying a word.  

Edited by Alisen Downey
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