The types of technology that a Congressional office can use is severely restricted by the government (as a former Congressional staffer, I am acutely familiar with the strict procurement policy). Today, the U.S. House of Representatives is announcing that members of Congress will be able to use Skype’s videoconferencing technology on government computer systems.
Skype says that its engineers worked closely with the Congressional network security team to ensure that Skype is used safely for official business (and not for Weiner-like conduct). As part of the security precautions, each Congressional office will have access to their own Skype Manager account, so one central person in each office can administer the Skype accounts.
In addition, Members of Congress and their staff can personally configure important privacy settings.
The addition of Skype will be a boon for many members of Congress. Skype will allow lawmakers to hold meetings with their constituents who are unable to travel to the Congressional office, participate in virtual town hall meetings when the Member is not in her or his District, conduct video conferences with District staff and more.
While Skype hasn’t signed on the Senate yet; we’re assuming that if it’s good for the House, it’s probably secure enough for the Senate.