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4/30/2009
12:15 PM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
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Feds Ink Deals To Let Government Agencies Use Social Media

The General Services Administration reached agreements with popular social media networks like Facebook and YouTube to allow agencies to use the service. Previously, elements of the terms of these services blocked the government from using them.

The General Services Administration reached agreements with popular social media networks like Facebook and YouTube to allow agencies to use the service. Previously, elements of the terms of these services blocked the government from using them.In the latest deals, the GSA negotiated agreements with MySpace, Blist, Slideshare and AddThis, according to a report in Federal Computer Week on Wednesday.

MySpace is a social portal for connecting people and content. Blist provides a service for publishing data on the Internet. Slideshare is a site for sharing PowerPoint, Word and PDF documents. AddThis is a bookmarking and sharing platform.

The agreements resolve legal concerns and conditions having to do with liability, endorsements, advertisements, freedom of information, and governing law.

The GSA previously signed agreements with Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, and blip.tv

As an example of the kind of disputes being resolved in these agreements, Federal Computer Week reported in January about then-ongoing negotiations with YouTube:

YouTube's contract stipulates that a state court in San Mateo County, Calif., would decide disputes. However, the federal government would not consent to being sued in a nonfederal court, said Mark McCreary, a partner at the law firm Fox Rothschild in Philadelphia. His practice focuses on intellectual property and Internet law.

The federal government likely needs Google, which owns YouTube, to agree to have disputes heard in federal court or through some type of arbitration process, McCreary said.

"Government negotiators will not subject the U.S. government to state courts," he said. "It is probably constitutionally impermissible." Stipulations that indemnify YouTube against legal and other challenges are also likely a concern to government officials, he added.



InformationWeek will be highlighting innovative government IT organizations in an upcoming issue. Nominate your agency by submitting an essay on your most innovative IT initiative completed in the last year. Find out more, and nominate your organization by May 1.

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