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YouTube goes to Washington

YouTube extends a friendly smile and some enhanced features to Congress as it quietly encroaches on C-Span's turf.

Google's popular video channel and its public policy group have teamed up to provide members of Congress with feature-enhanced video channels today.

Citing an increase in public interest in streaming video from their elected representatives, Google has offered to improve the YouTube channels of all 535 members of Congress for free. They will be able to share via YouTube, e-mail, and social media live-streamed and archived videos such as the first hour of the recent Rand Paul filibuster, embedded above.

Google's content partnerships head honcho Robert Kyncl and vice president of Public Policy and Government Relations Susan Molinari wrote in the blog post announcing the deal that members of Congress could use their improved YouTube channels to show constituents what their daily routines look like, as well as broadcast meetings, speeches, and home state events.

The announcement follows the release of "The New Digital Age," the new book by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Google Ideas Director Jared Cohen, in which the authors expressed concern that political leaders around the world were woefully unaware and unable to use the technological tools that could help them achieve their goals.

"There is a canyon dividing people who understand technology and people charged with addressing the world's toughest geopolitical issues, and no one has built a bridge," they wrote.

It's interesting to note that while YouTube isn't the only live-streaming service available to Congress, the letter informing Senate members of the new features points out that at least one other service, Ustream, charges the Senate to live-stream. The House of Representatives version of letter, meanwhile, notes several services that don't charge the House for streaming: Skype and ooVoo.