Wow, for you naysayers out there that think the government is slow, archaic, and behind-the-times, you may have to reconsider your position. The House of Representatives has OK’d the use of Skype and ooVoo within its hallowed halls. Up to now, security concerns had impeded adoption of these popular Internet phone and video conferencing tools, respectively, but now that those concerns have been addressed, the House is ready to move forward on its plan to improve communications and transparency with its constituents.
In these tough economic times where government budgets are strapped, leveraging technology solutions that tout cost efficiencies are gaining traction. Moreover, technological enhancements and plentiful bandwidth are driving the government to look at other real-time alternatives. Applications like Skype and ooVoo allow for virtual town hall meetings, facilitate responding to constituent inquiries, and obviate the need for travel in many instances. The net effect is a fluid, cost-effective communications channel between representatives and their constituents.
Now, the House had every right to take its time in blessing the use of Skype and ooVoo. Security concerns are justified, given the abundance of horror stories involving security breaches in government and other industries as well. The problem with social media and other Web 2.0 applications is that their ubiquity opens whole new vectors for malware and other types of evil to infiltrate the corporate or government network. The proliferation of content on these types of sites is mind-boggling – photos, videos, wikis, blogs, tweets, and the list goes on and on. But, each one of these types of content can be a springboard for malware.
Given the viral nature of social media and the breadth of the social graph, it doesn’t take much for a virus to spread. A simple, innocent click on a link to your friend’s supposed Morocco vacation pictures may not yield camel pictures, but rather, expletives flowing out of your mouth when you see the Blue Screen of Death.
That’s why you see so many security software and hardware vendors in the marketplace. They’re there for a reason. Not the sexiest technology, but definitely critical to your sanity and to the long-run viability of your company, or in the case of this blog entry, the House of Representatives. Having security systems and policies in place to control the glut of Web 2.0-type applications out there (Skype and ooVoo are just two of the thousands) is downright essential.
Without granular controls of social media, instant messaging, video conferencing, and the like, safely managing that fluid communications channel between government and the constituents becomes that much more difficult. Throw into the mix potential national security implications and one can see why security breaches aren’t taken lightly in government circles.
So, bravo to the House for giving the green light to Skype and ooVoo. Now, I can Skype my congresswoman to fix that pothole in front of my driveway.