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Worse than useless award: White House launches "e-petition" system
(September 1, 2011) (Federal Times)

"A new online platform set to launch on will allow
people to create, share and sign petitions "asking the Obama
administration to take action on a range of important issues facing
our country," the White House announced Thursday."

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I'm not a fan of e-petitions in general -- I get many requests to send
out notes promoting this or that petition, and I turn virtually all
of them down. E-petitions are just too easily manipulated and spoofed -- there are valid reasons why most legislators ignore them.

The new White House "We the People" (who comes up with these names?) e-petition system promises to be no better, and its high profile will make it an instant target for every interest group hoping to demonstrate its force -- and also an attractive target for hackers of all stripes.

Perhaps this is actually a ploy to promote government-linked Internet identity systems (I'm just kidding ... I think).

But overall, "We the People" would appear to be a useless project -- perhaps worse than useless by claiming it can mean anything substantive.

The "13-years-old and older" cutoff is meaningless -- anyone can click that check box or provide any birth date they choose. The requirement of 5K signatures within 30 days to get a response is also relatively easily subverted. Verification of fake email identities is trivial unless captchas are used, and sometimes even then. Even getting 167 real people per day to flood the system for any given topic will generally be fairly simple with a bit of effort.

How many petitions does the White House really want to see asking about the legalization of pot? The administration knows full well what all the topics of interest are, and polling data quite accurately shows the levels of support.

It's hard to view this White House e-petition system as anything other than a publicity stunt. This is unfortunately characteristic of this administration, which has been long on image and short on standing up to fight for the hard choices that would help ordinary people in this country -- people who are tired of seeing their health and finances being ruined mostly for the benefit of the privileged few, who seem not to care whether the "common people" live or die, so long as the Dom Pérignon flows freely.

-- Lauren --
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I think the right way to look at this is like those first postage stamp sized videos on the Internet. That was just silly, but you start where you can start.

Taking input from the internet for the government is hard, and we should applaud attempts, even though we know that the first petition - I'll take bets on "legalize marijuana" - will be pointless.
Oh good, a way to electronically notify the gov't that you're a dissenter and to flag yourself for extra scrutiny. </snark>
"... if it gets at least 100,000 signatures, it will be eligible for debate in the House of Commons". That should count for something. Although, as I write this, I realise that 'eligible for debate' and 'debated' are not the same thing.
If they got 100,000 signatures it would be very hard for them not to debate it, I think.
Without any sort of verification of signatures, these will easily be dismissed as "special interest groups" and "hackers".
"Great -- give the lefties and firebaggers something that will let them blow off some steam! A mass petitionizer! That's the very thing!"
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