Monday, March 2, 2009

White House videos on YouTube

Cross posted from the Google Public Policy Blog: link

Since before President Obama's inauguration, we at YouTube have been working with the federal government and the transition team to help make government more accessible and open through the use of video.

As part of that effort, the staff who control --the official site of the White House--embedded a YouTube player on that site. In the weeks since, some privacy advocates have criticized that decision, saying that visitors to federal websites should not receive a cookie from YouTube (a cookie is a piece of data about users or their computers that help us, for example, insure that video statistics such as view counts are accurate). We want to assure all visitors to federal websites that we're aware of this issue and have taken steps that meet the government's privacy requirements.

To ensure that we openly communicate about privacy issues on all federal websites that use our technology, we created an embeddable video player that does not send a cookie until the visitor plays the video, and we added a link to our privacy policy so that visitors know who is sending the cookie if they choose to play the video. The White House also informs visitors about these cookies in its privacy policy.

This past weekend, in presenting the President's most recent weekly Saturday address, the White House decided to use its own embedded player instead of the YouTube player on One report stated that the White House had "ditched" YouTube.

That report is wrong. The White House decision does not mean that the White House has stopped using YouTube. The White House continues to post videos to its YouTube channel, as do other agencies like the U.S. Department of Education and the State Department. These channels are part of a broader effort within the General Services Administration (GSA) to help federal agencies communicate directly with citizens on YouTube.

Here at YouTube, we support every effort by governments around the world to reach out to the public using any tool or platform possible. It's been exciting for us to see how effectively President Obama and others have used online tools such as YouTube to make government more transparent and participatory--and we look forward to seeing more of the same in the U.S and throughout the globe in the future.

-Steve Grove, YouTube News and Politics


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