U.S. SENATE INTERNET SERVICES USAGE RULES AND POLICIES
Adopted by the Committee on Rules and Administration on Sept. 19, 2008
A. SCOPE AND RESPONSIBILITY
- Senate Internet Services ("World Wide Web and Electronic mail, BLOGs, Podcasting, streaming media, etc.") may only be used for official purposes. The use of Senate Internet Services for personal, promotional, commercial, or partisan political/campaign purposes is prohibited.
- Members of the Senate, as well as Committee Chairmen and Officers of the Senate may post to the Internet Servers information files which contain matter relating to their official business, activities, and duties. All other offices must request approval from the Committee on Rules and Administration before posting material on the Internet Information Servers.
- Websites covered by this policy must be located in the SENATE.GOV host-domain.
- EXCEPTIONS: A Member, Committee or Officer of the Senate ("Office") may separately maintain websites or channels or otherwise post material on third-party websites that are available to the general public subject to Senate Rules, Regulations, Standing Orders and Statutes governing Senate operations, including the prohibition on using Senate internet resources for personal, promotional, commercial, or partisan political/campaign purposes. To provide assistance and guidance to Offices, the Rules and Administration Committee may provide a non-exhaustive list of examples of third-party websites that, at the time they are reviewed by the Committee, agree:
- to provide naming protocols or other methods that will enable the public to know when a site or channel is maintained by an office;
- not to add personal, promotional, commercial or partisan political/campaign-related content or links to an Office-maintained website or channel; and
- not to use data gathering tools on an Office-maintained website or channel that allow for collecting personal information on users and distributing it to outside parties.
- If the use of a particular website is determined to pose a possible threat to the security of the Senate's computer network, the Committee on Rules and Administration reserves the right to direct offices to cease using these websites until the issue can be resolved.
- The Rules Committee shall require the removal of a website or channel maintained by the Member on such third-party website or channel at the end of a Member's term.
- It is the responsibility of each Senator, Committee Chairman (on behalf of the committee), Officer of the Senate, or office head to oversee the use of the Internet Services by his or her office and to ensure that the use of the services is consistent with the requirements established by this policy and applicable laws and regulations.
- Official records may not be placed on the Internet Servers unless otherwise approved by the Secretary of the Senate and prepared in accordance with Section 501 of Title 44 of the United States Code. Such records include, but are not limited to: bills, public laws, committee reports, and other legislative materials.
B. POSTING OR LINKING TO THE FOLLOWING MATTER IS PROHIBITED
- Political Matter
- Matter which specifically solicits political support for the sender or any other person or political party, or a vote or financial assistance for any candidate for any political office is prohibited.
- Matter which mentions a Senator or an employee of a Senator as a candidate for political office, or which constitutes electioneering, or which advocates the election or defeat of any individuals, or a political party is prohibited.
- Personal Matter
- Matter which by its nature is purely personal and is unrelated to the official business activities and duties of the Senator is prohibited.
- Matter which constitutes or includes any article, account, sketch, narration, or other text laudatory and complimentary of any Senator on a purely personal or political basis rather than on the basis of performance of official duties as a Senator is prohibited.
- Reports of how or when a Senator, the Senator's spouse, or any other member of the Senator's family spends time other than in the performance of, or in connection with, the legislative, representative, and other official functions of such Senator is prohibited.
- Any transmission expressing holiday greetings from a Senator is prohibited. This prohibition does not preclude an expression of holiday greetings at the commencement or conclusion of an otherwise proper transmission.
- Promotional Matter
- The solicitation of funds for any purpose is prohibited.
- The placement of logos or links used for personal, promotional, commercial, or partisan political/campaign purposes is prohibited.
C. RESTRICTIONS ON THE USE OF INTERNET SERVICES
- During the 60-day period immediately preceding the date of any primary or general election (whether regular, special, or runoff) for any national, state, or local office in which the Senator is a candidate, no Member may solicit constituent input or inquiries (such as online petitions or opinion polls or issue alerts) using a Senate Internet Server ("World Wide Web and Electronic mail, BLOGs, Podcasting, streaming media, etc."), unless the candidacy of the Senator in such election is uncontested.
- Electronic mail may not be transmitted by a Member during the 60-day period before the date of the Member's primary or general election unless it is in response to a direct inquiry. Exceptions to this moratorium include the following: press release distribution to press organizations and email to perform administrative communication. Direct inquiries do not include a request to be added to a mailing list, subscription list, or other request to receive future mailings. During the 60-day period, electronic news letters may not be sent out.
- During the 60-day period immediately before the date of a biennial general Federal election, no Member may solicit constituent input or inquiries (such as online petitions or opinion polls, issue alerts or request to be added to newsletter mailing lists electronic or otherwise, on behalf of another Senator who is a candidate for election, unless the candidacy of the Senator in such election is uncontested.
- An uncontested candidacy is established when the Rules Committee receives written certification from the appropriate state official that the Senator's candidacy may not be contested under state law. Since the candidacy of a Senator who is running for re-election from a state which permits write-in votes on elections day without prior registration or other advance qualification by the candidate may be contested, such a Member is subject to the above restrictions.
- If a Member is under the restrictions as defined in subtitle C, paragraph (1), above, the following statement must appear on the homepage: ("Pursuant to Senate Policy, newsletters, petitions, opinion polls and issues alerts and other electronic communications cannot be initiated by this office for the 60-day period immediately before the date of a primary or general election.") The words "Senate Policy" must be hypertext linked to the Internet Services policy on the Senate Home Page.
- A Senator's homepage may not refer or be hypertext linked to another Member's site or electronic mail address without authorization from that Member.
- Any Links to Information not located on a Senate Internet Server must be identified as a link to a non-Senate entity, subject to the exceptions noted in A(3).
Domains and Names (URL) -- Senate entities must reside exclusively on SENATE.GOV domains, subject to the exceptions noted in A)3). The URL name for an official Senate Web site located in the SENATE.GOV domain must:
- Member sites - contain the Senator's last name.
- Committee sites - contain the name of the committee.
- Officer sites - contain the name of the office.
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