Write API for the We the People

API expands 'We the People' petitions

The White House last week launched a new application programming interface for its We the People petition page  that should enable users to sign online petitions from a variety of platforms and sites.

The point is to make the petition process more open and less directly tied to the official site. “The Write API enables people who want to sign White House petitions and engage in the conversation on We the People without visiting WhiteHouse.gov,” Leigh Heyman, the White House’s director of new media technologies, wrote on Oct. 23.  “Instead, users can use or build an interface that’s more suited to their own needs and issues.”

The app was developed by the General Services Administration’s 18F team, which builds innovative tools for delivery of government services. It was originally released for beta testing in November 2013. Developers who request an API key  have to comply with privacy requirements and other rules.

The online petition site was launched in 2011. Petitions that reach a signing threshold of 100,000 signatures in 30 days receive a White House review and a response. (Warning: Not all petitions get responses. Some are headed, “Why we can’t respond,” and ongoing investigations, for example, are off-limits.)

The most popular active petition at the moment appears to be one calling for the Muslim Brotherhood to be declared a terrorist organization, with 212,960 signatures. It is followed by a petition to pardon Edward Snowden, with 163,211 signatures. But also trending is a call for an executive order declaring Friday, Dec. 26, a federal holiday to create a four-day Christmas weekend this year. That one has 54,662 signatures – so far.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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