Feeds

White House raises the signature threshold for petitions to 100,000

Calm down, you're being silly

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The last two months have seen a dramatic spike in use of the "We the People" online petition system set up by the White House, and with President Obama about to start a second term, the rules are being changed.

The petitioning system was set up by the Obama administration in September 2011, and initially it required the White House to acknowledge the petitioners' complaints if more than 5,000 people signed up. This was later raised to 25,000, but in light of a massive spike in use, the response threshold is now being raised again, to 100,000 signatures.

Chart showing spiking growth of We the People petitions

"In the last two months of 2012, use of We the People more than doubled. In just that time roughly 2.4 million new users joined the system, 73,000 petitions were created and 4.9 million signatures were registered," said Macon Phillips, the White House's director of digital strategy.

For most of 2012, it took a petition 18 days to reach the 25,000-signature threshold, but in November and December this dropped down to five days and more than 60 per cent of all successful petitions fell in these two months. The idea has caught on online, it seems.

The most petitioned area on the site was for civil liberties, with government reform and human rights the next most popular topics. But the pranksters of the internet have had some fun too.

A petition calling for the US to invest in building a Death Star reached the 25,000 signature mark with ease, prompting a tongue-in-cheek response from the White House. The Hacking group Anonymous has also petitioned for DDoS attacks to be legalized.

The current cause du jour is a petition to investigate the prosecution of troubled internet genius Aaron Swartz. So far this has garnered just 38,000 signatures, well below the new threshold, but the 100,000 limit won’t be applied retroactively.

Lest Americans think they've got the rough end of the democracy stick, however, the situation with online petitions is much worse in the UK. The British government already has the e-petition signature threshold set at 100,000 and is considering raising it further to cut down on the number of responses it needs to make. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery
Burrito meets soft taco in alleged rooftop romp outrage
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.