White House Wants Beta Testers for “We the People” Petition Website
The White House is looking for a few good beta testers and, no, not for that government site.
You might have noticed requests to sign various “We the People, Your Voice in Our Government” petitions cropping up on your Facebook page or Twitter feed.
More than two years ago, the White House launched We the People, an online platform on the White House website that lets people generate and sign petitions requesting the government take action on an issue. If a petition garners enough supporting signatures within the specified time period, White House staff will review it, send it to the appropriate policy experts, and then an official response will be issued.
Petitioning the US government is nothing new; it is, after all, our First Amendment right.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. - The First Amendment, United States Constitution
This is another option—in addition to email and traditional snail mail or even voice mail—that people have to petition the White House. However, many users have asked for the ability to also submit signatures and petitions gathered from other sites—without requiring users to logon to the official government site—and still receive an official response.
The White House blog recently announced that a Write API is being developed that will allow individuals and organizations to collect signatures from their own platforms and submit them to We the People without requiring users to visit the official site.
Developers interested in participating in the beta period for Version 2.0 of the We the People API are invited to apply online.
The new Write API builds upon the Read API released in spring of 2013, which allows access to some of the data for analysis. If you’re interested, the API Gallery has some of the projects.
Of course, successfully submitting a petition does not guarantee a specified response.
For example, as Wired has reported: “An online petition demanding the President Barack Obama administration build a Death Star like the one in Star Wars reached 25,000-plus signatures last month, a threshold obliging the government to respond whether it will build the fictional weapon capable of annihilating planets.”
And, the official White House response: “The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon.”