White House to Offer API Access to Petitions Site

By Cameron Scott 

digital democracy, online activism, social networks, social media,The White House’s electronic petitions site, WeThePeople, will move to an API-based service, allowing users to sign petitions without visiting the website, said Peter Welch, a deputy director in the Office of Digital Strategy.

“We’re taking a new approach to how the application works, one that starts with the assumption that it should be as open, transparent, and flexible as possible,” Welch said in a blog post.

The site, which allows citizens to petition the president directly, has met with such high user engagement that the White House has twice raised the number of signatures required to earn a response to a petition from the president. The cutoff point was most recently hiked in January, from 25,000 to 100,000.

Six million unique users have generated 10 million signatures on the site, according to Welch. More than 2 million new users joined the site in the last two months of 2012.

The API-based site will also allow developers to grab petition data and use it to create tools and visualizations. To debut the API, the White House will host a hackathon on February 22.