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. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
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.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.